From the United Kingdom to France to Italy and even Greece, we've seen country after country across Europe make it easier for Americans and other travelers to get in. But now, Iceland is taking it a step even farther.
As of Friday, Feb. 25, Iceland will drop virtually all its COVID-19 restrictions: No proof of vaccination nor COVID-19 testing will be required to enter the country. Even unvaccinated Americans and others can freely visit Iceland as of Friday without any additional testing requirements. Limits on group gatherings and mandatory quarantines after contracting COVID-19 in Iceland are ending too, though it's not clear what this means for Iceland's mask mandates
In short, Iceland is essentially returning to pre-pandemic times – skipping the step that other European countries have taken by dropping some additional entry requirements for foreign travelers. It's 2019 in Iceland again.
“We can truly rejoice at this turning-point,” Icelandic Minister of Health Willum Þór Þórsson said in the announcement, “but nonetheless I encourage people to be careful, practice personal infection prevention measures and not to interact with others if they notice symptoms.”
While Iceland is going farther than many countries in doing away with all restrictions in one fell swoop, it's not alone. Norway made a similar move earlier this month. But the overall trend is clear: As the wave of COVID-19 cases driven by the Omicron variant subsides, countries across the world are itching to loosen things up and learn to live with COVID-19 longterm as it transitions from a pandemic to an endemic.
Iceland was among the first European countries to reopen to vaccinated Americans nearly a year ago. But as the pandemic progressed and new variants emerged, it added some additional hoops to jump through like also providing a COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours before departure for Iceland – regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status. Unvaccinated Americans have been required to undergo several tests plus quarantine for five days upon arrival in order to visit Iceland.
But getting home is a different story, at least for now. As of today, Americans traveling to Iceland – or any foreign country – will still need a COVID-19 test no more than one calendar day before flying back to the U.S. There are testing sites at reasonable prices in Reykjavik, though some at-home test kits with supervised tele-health exams are a great option for flying home from Iceland.
The tide is turning.
Iceland isn't just making it a bit easier for American travelers to visit, as we've seen in other European countries – they're doing away with COVID-19 restrictions altogether. Starting tomorrow, a trip to Iceland will look much like it did before the pandemic … at least as far as travel restrictions are concerned.