About the obligation to quarantine or isolate or to undergo testing due to COVID-19


General information about COVID-19

COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a public health emergency of international concern due to COVID-19 and on March 11, 2020, it declared a pandemic, which is still ongoing. At covid.is you can find the latest statistical information on the disease in Iceland, as well as various other information.

COVID-19 is highly infectious. Transmission routes between individuals are via aerosol and droplets from the airway, as well as with direct contact. The virus spreads when an infected person coughs, sneezes or blows his/her nose near others and other individuals inhale large or small droplets from the infected person. The virus can also for some time contaminate surfaces where the droplets land.

Infected individuals become infectious 2–12 days after infection and can be infectious for at least 3–4 days whether they show symptoms themselves or not. Those who develop symptoms are thought to have been infectious for at least 24 hours before symptoms appeared. Some are infectious for much longer but very rarely for more than two weeks. The main symptoms of COVID-19 are from the respiratory tract, e.g. cough, fever, sore throat, shortness of breath, but also bone and muscle pain and fatigue as well as sudden loss of taste and smell. COVID-19 can cause life-threatening illness with pneumonia and failure of respiratory and other organs that can lead to death. In addition, many people suffer from long-term consequences of the disease such as fatigue, difficulty breathing, joint and muscle pain, headaches and difficulty concentrating.

The experience gained during COVID-19 in Iceland has shown that personal infection control is important, but contact tracing, isolation of infected persons and quarantine of contacts are key factors, as well as the diagnosis of travellers upon arrival to the country, to keep the epidemic under control domestically.

Those exposed to infection are those who have been in contact (been close to) an infected person or touched a contaminated surface. Those who travel between countries are considered exposed to infection, and infection is diagnosed daily in travellers upon arrival.


Duties of individuals

Those exposed to an infected person should be quarantined for five days from the time they interacted with the infected person. Quarantine is then lifted with a negative result from a PCR test. An individual in quarantine at home where a person in isolation resides and there is not complete separation between the individuals may complete quarantine by PCR testing one day after the isolation of the infected person ends. An individual who does not undergo a PCR test to end quarantine shall be subjected to it for 14 days from exposure. Those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in Iceland are exempt from quarantine for six months after infection. If a PCR test result is positive, the person in question must be in isolation.

If contact tracing reveals that an individual's exposure has been minor, an individual may follow special precaution instead of quarantine. This includes the obligation to take a rapid antigen test on the first day of special precaution and again on the fourth day. If the test results are negative, the individual no longer needs to follow special precautions. If the result of the rapid test is positive, the individual must follow the rules on isolation and undergo a PCR test immediately for confirmation of diagnosis.

A traveller who has stayed for more than 24 hours in the last 14 days in a risk area due to COVID-19 is required to pre-register before arrival, present a certificate of exemption of quarantine (certificate of vaccination, previous infection or antibodies) but otherwise undergo a PCR test at the border upon arrival, and stay five days in quarantine that ends with a second PCR test. A child born in 2005 or later is exempt from these rules. Regarding the requirement to undergo a test upon arrival, see here.

Furthermore, a traveller with ties to Iceland must undergo a rapid antigen test or PCR test within the next two days of arrival in the country. Exempted from this obligation are travellers who present a certificate showing that 14-180 days have passed since their COVID-19 infection (positive PCR test).
See further recommendation for travellers here.

A person who is quarantined must be alone in the location of quarantine, such as a house, apartment or hotel room. It is not desirable to share accommodations in quarantine with someone in isolation, but this may be unavoidable, e.g. when a dependent person is in isolation. Quarantine should not be lifted by testing until after the isolation is lifted under those circumstances. The quarantine location shall in other respects fulfill the conditions set out in the instructions of the Chief Epidemiologist.

Special rules in quarantine apply to those with three vaccinations, or those with two vaccinations and previous COVID-19 infection. See here.

A person in isolation must be alone in the location of isolation, such as a house, apartment or hotel room. A person with a confirmed COVID-19 infection should be in isolation for 7 days from diagnosis. Physicians at Landspitali COVID-19 outpatient clinic can extend isolation on the basis of a medical assessment. Rules of isolation are otherwise in accordance with the the Chief Epidemiologist´s instructions.

The homeowner or manager of the hotel must agree to the use of the facility for isolation purposes. Quarantine hotels can be a resource for those who do not have the appropriate accommodations for isolation.

Individuals may request a formal decision from the Chief Epidemiologist regarding quarantine, isolation or testing. A request for the decision should be sent to sottkvi@landlaeknir.is. Decisions of the Chief Epidemiologist may be submitted to a District Court and such court cases are dealt with in accordance with Article 15 of Act No. 19/1997 regarding infection control. The Chief Epidemiologist shall be notified of the request to submit a decision to the District Court by sending an e-mail to sottkvi@landlaeknir.is. The name and ID number (kennitala) of the person concerned must be included. Proceedings in court are free of charge for individuals and a spokesperson (lawyer) is appointed for them. Proceedings in court do not delay the implementation of the decision.

Violations of infection control regulations can result in fines.

Information on COVID-19 and a web chat for general questions can be found at covid.is

Fyrst birt 01.12.2021
Síðast uppfært 10.01.2022

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