Icelandic Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir announced the latest development at a press conference on Tuesday. She explained that passengers arriving into the airport would no longer be obligated to carry out a 14-day quarantine, but would instead have the option of being screened for Covid-19 and being allowed to wait at their accommodation for the results. Passengers will also be asked to download the COVID-19 tracing app, Rakning C-19.
Thordis Kolbrun Reykfjord Gylfadottir, Minister of Tourism, Industry and Innovation, said in an announcement: "When travellers return to Iceland, we want to have all mechanisms in place to safeguard them and the progress made in controlling the pandemic. Iceland's strategy of large-scale testing, tracing and isolating have proven effective so far; we want to build on that experience."
The new measures are dependent on the continued decline in Covid-19 cases in the country.
Elsewhere, residents of Switzerland have now been told that they will be allowed to holiday abroad in Germany and Austria once the borders re-open on 15 June.
“Tourism will be possible as soon as the borders are open again. But I encourage the Swiss to stay here and support tourism in Switzerland,” Swiss Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter said. She added: “The talks with the foreign ministers of these countries have shown that we want to get back to normal at the border as soon as possible, if the epidemiological situation allows it. We are aiming for full border opening on June 15 between Germany, Austria, France and Switzerland.”
There is as of yet no set date for when Swiss tourists will be allowed to enter France, but Keller-Sutter asserted that a decision was likely forthcoming at the weekend. Switzerland’s border with Italy looks set to remain closed for some time.
Across the EU, there is hope yet of travel this summer. "Our message is we will have a tourist season this summer," said Economic Affairs Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni, "even if it's with security measures and limitations.”
The European Commission’s (EC) plans involve countries working together to gradually remove travel bans and then border checks, while maintaining targeted measures as the Covid-19 outbreak comes under control across the member states.
The EC has also ruled that airlines must give customers refunds for their cancelled flights, rather than vouchers. "European consumers have the right to a cash refund if that's what they want,” said EC Vice-President Margrethe Vestager. She also acknowledged that the economic impact would be less severe if consumers agreed to take vouchers, therefore recommendations would be made on how to make that option more attractive.
As of Friday 15 May, travel between Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania will reopen – a quarantine will initially be in place for travellers from other states.
ITIJ notes that while travel is beginning to ease up in some areas, and that ‘travel bubbles’ will improve the economic outlook for those countries included – the outlook for global tourism this year is still looking bleak. With countries such as the US and the China having long been the world’s top tourism spenders, it won’t be until international travel for these big players opens back up that global tourism will get back on its feet.