Iceland opens borders for vaccinated visitors to boost tourism

Iceland had already allowed vaccinated EU residents, but the new policy allows U.K. and U.S. residents as well.

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People walk past artwork on the side of a shop as the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Reykjavik, Iceland, September 3, 2020. (John Sibley / Reuters File Photo)

COPENHAGEN — Iceland will this week open its borders to all visitors who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 without mandatory testing or quarantine, as it seeks to attract more tourists to help revive its coronavirus-hit economy.

The North Atlantic country, which will become one of the first to open its borders since the beginning of the pandemic, saw tourist numbers plummet by 75 percent last year to just under half a million, causing its economy to contract by 6.6 percent.

“The world has been through a lot in the past 12 months, and we are all hoping for a slow and safe return to normalcy,” Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir said in a statement

“This also includes the resumption of the opportunity to travel, which is valuable to culture, trade and enterprise.”

Iceland had until now allowed vaccinated visitors from European Union countries to enter without restrictions, but from March 18 this exemption will apply to citizens outside the Schengen area, including Britain and the United States, it said.

Visitors must present proof of vaccination with a vaccine that has been certified by the European Medicines Agency, which excludes Chinese and Russian vaccines.

Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen.