Work quarantine - Guidelines for employers

In the event of vital necessity to ensure continued operations or to complete projects that cannot wait, it is possible to apply for a work quarantine arrangement for employees from overseas. This only applies if it is possible to fulfil mandatory infection prevention measures as per the instructions issued by the Chief Epidemiologist.

As a rule, contractors cannot apply for work quarantine for themselves. The employer must make the application, as he is responsible for conditions in the workplace and has a more comprehensive view of the workforce that needs to be located in the workplace.

Foreign entities who apply for work quarantine are to do so through Icelandic partners or agents.

Work quarantine is not an open authorisation from undergoing quarantine, merely authorisation to undertake the projects specified in the application of the applicant at the locations indicated together with accommodation within the quarantine. Any departure from the arrangements stated in the permission is regarded as a violation of quarantine rules. The Chief Epidemiologist must be notified of any changes to workplaces or accommodation.

The conditions for work quarantine

  1. Urgent need for the work contribution of the employee in question, in the opinion of management, in order to ensure continued operations and which other employees cannot undertake.
  2. A negative result from screening must be obtained before the employee enters the workplace.
  3. Ensure that general rules on quarantine are followed, as are specially designed rules that are appropriate to the conditions of the project.
  4. Obligation to provide information to all involved parties.

Applicants for work quarantine for employees/contractors coming from overseas are responsible for ensuring that conditions in the workplace fulfil infection prevention rules and for ensuring that employees follow the requisite infection prevention rules. This entails:

Obligation to provide information

  1. Ensure that supervisors are aware that their employees will come into contact with persons who are in quarantine and that they have given permission thereto. They are to be familiar with the infection prevention rules according to the recommendations of the Chief Epidemiologist, seeing as employees are their responsibility.
  2. Care must be taken to ensure that everyone who will be working closely with persons in work quarantine are informed about the quarantine as well as about quarantine rules and that they have agreed to such measures. 
  3. Ensure that all service providers at accommodation facilities, the workplace and as regards transportation are aware of persons who are in quarantine.
  4. Inform other employees at the workplace that there are quarantined employees in the workplace and advise them of instructions relating to infection prevention rules during work quarantine.
  5. Ensure that the Chief Epidemiologist is informed of all those who are to be registered in work quarantine as well as all those involved in the case, see application form.

Execution

The conditions of the accommodation must fulfil conditions for Accommodation during quarantine

  1. Ensure that employees in work quarantine have separate living quarters, i.e. such as separate rooms, with separate hygiene facilities and separate facilities to eat in, and that the necessary resources, such as hygiene materials, food and other requirements, are provided. At the workplace, there must be separate facilities to eat in as well as separate hygiene facilities.
  2. All property or equipment of employees in quarantine must be stored in their living quarters and not in foyers or other shared areas in the building.
  3. Access to shared areas must be limited as far as possible, and the person in work quarantine must make every effort to avoid touching what others use in shared areas unless such surfaces are disinfected immediately thereafter, i.e. door handles/knobs, light switches, etc.
  4. Employees in work quarantine shall remain at their pre-defined workstation while in work quarantine and shall not roam about the workplace while other employees are working. Unnecessary visits to other parts of the workplace are undesirable while in work quarantine.
  5. Holding meetings with persons in work quarantine is not recommended. If such meetings are unavoidable, all attendees must be informed about the persons in work quarantine and permission must be obtained from their supervisors. Meeting attendees must have given their approval for attendance at the meeting with an individual in work quarantine and must be informed of quarantine rules. Meeting attendees shall also be recorded in the application for work quarantine. Care must be taken to ensure that the location of the meeting is sufficiently large to enable attendees to maintain applicable social distance limits among themselves and that a distance of at least 2 metres is maintained between groups. The location must be properly ventilated and have good acoustics so that attendees do not need to raise their voices. Face masks and disinfectant are to be available at the meeting. Care must be taken to ensure that those who are in work quarantine do not share cutlery with others and that they have access to a separate area for meals and to rest and separate hygiene facilities. In addition, service providers are to be informed of the quarantine.
  6. Employees in work quarantine may not interact with the general public or spend time in restaurants and cafés. Face masks are to be used indoors, hand sanitiser used, contact surfaces disinfected if using public areas, and the time spent therein must be as short as possible.
  7. Employees in work quarantine must be ensured safe modes of travel. Employees in work quarantine may not use public transport, such as scheduled domestic flights or buses. They may, however, use personal cars, rental cars or taxis provided that the company in question is informed of the quarantine when the vehicle is booked. If travelling for long distances, efforts shall be made to keep stops where people congregate to a minimum, such as in fuel stations, shops, restaurants and public hygiene facilities. If travel by ferry is necessary, the ferry operator must be informed of the work quarantine and the employees must always maintain a 2-metre distance from other persons and wear a face mask.

 

General infection prevention at work

  1. The person shall pre-register before arriving in Iceland and submit a negative PCR test that is no older than 72 hours before boarding the aircraft or ship.
  2. Such person must undergo a PCR screening test on arrival in Iceland. The employee in question may not begin work before a negative result from the first screening has been obtained.
  3. Effective social distancing rules must always be followed, both by employees in quarantine and co-workers.
  4. Service providers must always be informed that the person in question is in quarantine.
  5. Face masks are to be used in common areas where it is not possible to maintain social distancing, i.e. on the way to and from work, if the person in question needs to pass through public areas or take a taxi.
  6. The employee is to maintain hand sanitation in accordance with basic infection prevention measures and at a minimum before and after interaction in common areas, before and after use of equipment in the workplace, before and after the use of lavatories and before and after consumption of meals. If gloves are used while working (work gloves or disposable gloves), hand sanitisation must be employed before and after the use of gloves. 
  7. General rules on quarantine apply outside the workplace.
  • In the event of the slightest suspicion of COVID-19 symptoms, the employee may not enter the workplace. The employee must notify his supervisor, remain in the quarantine living quarters and contact the health centre. Information on symptoms and responses thereto may be found on the website covid.is.
  • In the event of an infection, the conditions for work quarantine will be cancelled, the infected person will enter isolation and any contacts will be placed in quarantine.
  • In the event of any violations of the rules on quarantine in these circumstances, the permit for work quarantine will be cancelled. Violations of quarantine laws and rules established thereunder are subject to fines or imprisonment for up to three months, as provided for in Article 19 of Act No. 19/1997.
  • The police are responsible for monitoring that infection prevention rules are followed during work quarantine and will receive a copy of work quarantine permits.

Assessment of applications for work quarantine
The Chief Epidemiologist assesses each application in light of the above conditions and grants approval for work quarantine if the description of conditions indicates that it is possible to maintain quarantine in the workplace and that the material needs of employees in work quarantine will be met adequately both in the workplace and living quarters.

Employees in work quarantine are specified in applications for work quarantine and are registered in the tracing database of the Department of Civil Protection.

Persons who need to be in close contact with persons undergoing work quarantine are also registered in the application form, such as co-workers, vehicle drivers, guides and others. This applies e.g. to persons who work in the same space, attend meetings, have shared surface contact, use the same tools or share rest, dining or hygiene facilities. Individuals involved in the project, such as floor managers, working groups, facility operators and others who do not need to share spaces or be close to the quarantined person, the application form to facilitate infection tracing in the event of illness, as well as to ensure employer disclosure of information to them.

The necessity of work quarantine must be reasoned, as must the reason why a project cannot wait while the person in question is in quarantine.

A detailed description of infection prevention according to work quarantine for each project component must be provided. The mode of travel, communications with co-workers and others, conditions in the workplace where the work is carried out, description of workspace, conditions for rest, dining and hygiene facilities must be provided.

Application process for work quarantine

  1. Familiarise yourself with the above rules on work quarantine and home quarantine on the website of the Directorate of Health. Make sure that you have obtained the approval of everyone involved regarding the arrangements for work quarantine, i.e. that co-workers are ready to work with the person in work quarantine and that the operator of the facilities has been informed.
  2. Make sure that all requested information is stated in the application form and complete the checklist for work quarantine.
  3. Provide a detailed description of conditions in the workplace and the accommodation in the reasoning for the application. Describe infection prevention measures according to work quarantine in light of circumstances and work components.
  4. Send the application by e-mail to svl@landlaeknir.is labelled “Vinnusóttkví – (name of company).”  The application must be sent in WORD.DOC format. Your reasoning and the completed checklist must be sent in the same e-mail. Applications that are not acceptably prepared or sent in another format than WORD.DOC will not be accepted.
  5. The representative of the Chief Epidemiologist will send a response to applicants. The response will either reject or approve the work quarantine application. Approvals will be accompanied by instructions that must be forwarded to employees undergoing work quarantine as well as to those who will come into contact with them.
  • In the event of changes to the date of arrival, location of accommodation or workplace of the employee in work quarantine, the applicant must send updated information to the Chief Epidemiologist.
  • In the event of changes to the workforce, a new application must be submitted.

 

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Fyrst birt 09.11.2020
Síðast uppfært 30.08.2021

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