Iceland to re-open to tourists on 15th June with airport testing
Iceland to re-open to tourists on 15th June with airport testing. To say that I am excited by this news would be a bit of an understatement. Especially since my livelihood depends on the people who come to Iceland. But, I am careful as to what it really means for travelers who decide to make the trip to Iceland this year.
So I’ve made a shortlist of what the trip will mean for people coming to Iceland after June 15, and if it’s a good idea.
Is COVID-19 still in Iceland?
Since the beginning of May, Iceland has reported only a handful of new cases. This despite generalized tests. The people of Iceland are returning to normal life. A new standard with social distancing in place, but nevertheless normal.
Will the opening of borders lead to a resurgence of COVID-19 in Iceland?
The government continues to flesh out the details, but it is expected that this will not create a new wave because of the precautions it takes. To enter Iceland, you must:
a. have a certificate confirming that a recent COVID-18 test is negative.
b. OR take a test upon arrival with expected results within 24 hours.
vs. if you refuse or the test returns positive, you must quarantine for 2 weeks.
re. download a COVID-19 plotter application to monitor the spread in the country.
What will Iceland look like in a post-COVID-19 world?
In short, the crowd has disappeared! And the discounts will be EVERYWHERE! All natural sites are still as beautiful and still as accessible. Hotels are more likely to be available in the busiest months (summer). And with the very favorable exchange rate for USD, EUR and GBP, that expensive dinner will no longer feel as expensive.
Is everything open in Iceland?
Fortunately, the things that make Iceland so special don’t have opening hours. It’s the beauty of nature. Long hikes, leisurely walks, natural hot pools and glacier hikes are all outdoors. A great example is the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon with its floating size icebergs. Without many other tourists bothering you, you can walk on the shores of the lagoon in peace and harmony. If you decide to come in summer, you will be entitled to the puffin and whale migration period. If you decide to wait until winter, ice caves and the Northern Lights appear.
Should I join a tour?
Absolutely. Despite the social distancing measures, the rule for tourist groups is that you must be 2 rows away from your driver and have empty seats between non-family members. So all that social distance will mean for you when you join these tours is that you will have more space in the vehicle. Then, with your expert guide in mind, you can aim to avoid any bottleneck effect with other travelers and discover all that Iceland has to offer.
Also, if you are afraid of mixing with other people, you can always opt for a private tour instead. The exchange rate being where it is and the great discounts from operators, private travel has never been so cheap.
What does social distance mean for travelers?
Travelers are considered low risk. This is due to the fact that they are unlikely to come into contact with vulnerable people. When you are at a popular attraction, you have to keep the social distance rule of 2 meters, but it really helps to get a photo without other tourists.
Should I wait or come to Iceland now?
Once you are in Iceland, you are safe. As safe as possible during all of this. With hardly any new cases reported in Iceland, you can breathe easily on arrival. However, it really depends on whether or not the country you come from allows international travel, and whether you should also quarantine immediately. So if you’re still worried about getting here physically, then think about winter for traveling. Iceland has many great attractions in winter. From the northern lights to exploring the ice caves, passing through the aesthetics of winter wonders.
The great thing is that many small operators are offering very flexible tickets at the moment. If you book a tour for the future and decide that the time is not right for you, you can change the date for free. The same goes for many airlines, including Icelandair.
However, if you do decide to come in the summer, be sure to take advantage of the rich flora and fauna that is only available at this time of year. The entire south coast of Iceland turns purple with the Alaskan lupine in full swing at this time of the year.
What will COVID-19 prices look like?
Surprisingly much cheaper. Many operators and tour operators are now offering great discounts to encourage people to start traveling again. Add to that an impressive exchange rate and Iceland has never been cheaper.
And the crowd? I hear that Iceland is overcrowded?
Well, I would have argued that this was not true before the release of COVID-19. In fact, 2019 has seen a marked drop in the number of tourists anyway. After taking into account the effects of COVID-19, many expect a maximum of 30 to 40% of the number of tourists.
It would seem, with careful planning, some flexibility, and working with the locals, that it might be time to start considering Iceland as your next big trip.