Tourists who are fully vaccinated are free to travel throughout Iceland without any restrictions as of July 1.
The change comes thanks to Iceland’s success at getting most of its residents vaccinated, leading officials to drop all domestic COVID regulations and get the country as close to pre-pandemic normal as just about anywhere in the world.
“We are regaining the kind of society which we feel normal to live in and we have longed for, ever since the authorizations of the Act on Health Security and Communicable Diseases to restrict gatherings were activated because of the pandemic more than a year ago,” Minister of Health Svandis Svavarsdottir said in a statement.
For travelers headed to Iceland, the testing of those who submit valid vaccination certificates will be stopped, and they will not need proof of a negative COVID test prior to arrival. Testing of children born after 2005 will also end.
Vaccines must be on the approved list from the European Medicines Evaluation Agency or WHO. The three main vaccines used in the United States — Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson — all fall on that list.
Visitors who are not fully vaccinated will continue to need to show proof of a negative test 72 hours prior to arrival.
Once in the country, visitors and residents will discover all regulations have been lifted. That means social distancing, limits on gatherings, masks, and limits on hours of operation for businesses have all been dropped.
The decision to lift all restrictions comes as a result of a recommendation by the nation’s chief epidemiologist.
“Continuous and honest communication between the people and our trusted scientists have contributed mightily to the population’s willingness to take part in the effort to minimize the harms of the pandemic,” Svavarsdottir said. “There has been a focus on maintaining a proper level of vigilance, without either downplaying or exaggerating the risk. We are succeeding by trusting the good sense of the Icelandic people.”
More than 87 percent of eligible residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine, one of the highest percentages in the world. Despite the number, officials still expect cases to continue to surface.
“We fully expect that we will continue to detect cases and that small clusters of infection may appear,” said Head of Civil Protection Vioir Reynisson. “But we are confident that our contact tracing capabilities, with the public’s willingness to abide by both quarantine and isolation requirements, will prove sufficient to handle any new outbreaks.”
Iceland, with a population of just under 400,000, has had just 637 confirmed COVID cases and 30 deaths during the pandemic. Currently, 12 individuals are in isolation with coronavirus.