Dearest Friends of Camper Iceland
We are taking a flight from Europe to Iceland to experience the new regulation and approach of the local government. If you are wondering if you should still go to Iceland or are interested to read about a true story you should continue to read this.
Did you hear about the changes in Iceland? Yes, once again the COVID-19 is increasing worldwide and in order to get the situation under control the Icelandic government has yet again come up with a brilliant idea. In accordance to local officials the reasons is mainly because two persons that lied on the governmental form and stated that they came from a save country. In fact, they had stayed in an unsafe area (got infected) but flew in from a declared save country. The result was 130 infected, 4 had to seek medical attention and one had to use the respirator breathing machine in the hospital. Thanks to these two persons the safe and unsafe country list is off the table. All countries are now considered unsafe and on top of that the approach has changed tremendously. We know what you are thinking or should be thinking. It’s always the same! Two people make a mistake and all of us pay the consequences. That’s how the cookie crumbles!
Before Wednesday the 19th of August you would take the COVID-19 test at the airport and were free to go. The app or a SMS would inform you if you are infected. The approach now is that you can choose between:
A: 14 day quarantine. The government is looking for ways to stop people from choosing this 14 quarantine but not actually going into quarantine.
B: Take a COVID-19 test at the border, go to a 4-6 day quarantine, take a second test. If the second test is still negative you are free to travel. You can go to a hotel for the first night, but after the second night you must stay at a certain address for the rest of the quarantine. You can only go on the balcony and if there is none you may go outside with the limitation of not getting closer to people then 2 meters. The second test makes sense if somebody just recently got infected and the first test would not detect it.
We decided to choose option B and here is what and how we did it. Here is where our actual story begins:
My name is Daniel and I booked a flight from Switzerland to Iceland. My flight was already booked when the government decided to change the rules from one day to the next. The first concern was if Icelandair would fly at all or if the flight would be cancelled. Well there was no way to find out if the flight had been cancelled because it was listed on time. On time is on time and to my surprise it actually took place. Many people had speculated that all flights would be cancelled. What I did just to avoid driving to the airport for nothing was checking if the plane would actually fly from Iceland to Zurich (0720 local time, 0920 Swiss time). If that flight had been cancelled how on earth would the same plane fly from Switzerland to Iceland if you know what I mean. Everything was on time and I boarded the airplane with approx 20-30 others. That really hurts because I am afraid that Icelandair is not making any money on this service. Well, maybe I counted less than we really are but before we continue let’s take a few steps back because from where I am sitting right now, nothing has changed with the exception that:
- People are wearing masks.
- People are afraid of traveling.
- People have difficulties adapting to the changed world.
Why do I travel
Why would you go to Iceland, people asked me last week. First I am not afraid to travel and second of all I am guessing that Iceland will be empty. I will be able to go to the sites, and they will look like back in the days before the tourist boom. It’s difficult to say that COVID-19 is a total media bullshit because some people seem to be affected terribly and others don‘t even get symptoms. Still, it is painful to see the economy collapse and for what? The situation now is just as bad as it was before the lock down. I am told that Iceland has more active COVID-19 cases than ever before. My suggestion is not thinking to much about it but to adapt to the situation and make the best of it.
Facts instead of links
Instead of reaching out simply to send the links to the government we decided to check this out ourselves. That is one of the biggest reasons I did not cancel my flight. I want to know what it is that the Icelandic government is asking you to do just to go to Iceland. It feels a little like an adventure! As an employee of Camper Iceland perhaps it would be a bit strange to ask you to travel to Iceland and rent one of our vehicles but not being brave enough to travel myself. So far it’s easy as pie.
Because I speak Icelandic, I was able to listen to the press conference when the Icelandic government announced the changes. After that you could read a lot of rumors on how the changes would affect the travel industry. Misinterpretation of the language where a big issue at first and until the government had made things clearer on the web page covid.is. If you are using a tablet or cell phone make sure to write /english or www.covid.is/english because the language selection did not work for me. In my humble opinion I would rather read the official page to understand the situation then to read some article on the internet that might be outdated.
The page tells you to preregister 72h before landing in Iceland and the form makes things pretty clear. You can also find a list of hotels that offer „quarantine“ rooms because these rooms may not be in the same area or floor as „regular“ customers. In my case I have stayed in a safe place where no one had COVID-19. I know nobody personally that had COVID-19. So of course you would think. „Why on earth do I need to undergo these ridiculous measures and go to quarantine?“ Look at it this way, Iceland is trying to become save again. In order to do, so they added this „filter“ to the border. If everybody undergoes the quarantine Iceland will be a safe place and it will be well worth spending a few days in quarantine. Positive thinking folks!
To prepare properly I recommend doing this:
- Recalculate your vacation, you need 5-6 more days due to the quarantine. Perhaps you need to change the flight to an earlier one and inform your boss that traveling to Iceland now takes longer than planned.
- Repack your luggage as you will need more clothes and something to kill approx 5 days of quarantine (games, play cards, maps, books etc.)
- There is an explanation where you can stay during quarantine, a Motor Home, Camper or similar is not one of these places (to make sure we actually wrote the government and it turns out they want you to go to a room).
- Preregister after booking or renting a place where you can stay during the quarantine and enter the address where you will stay.
- Print out the QR code that you receive after registration. You will need this code at the check in and during boarding (I had to show the person the code).
- Install the tracing app found on the web page covid.is.
- Make sure you bring at least one mask.
- Buy some beverages at the airport after the security check. I was able to pass security with some food.
- Make sure your bag is not to big because you can only use the space under the seat in front of you. Icelandair allows you to use the over head compartment only when sitting at an emergency exit.
- Traditional service is not provided unless you are a kid, then you receive a refreshment. They gave us a small bottle of water during boarding. Saga class people get a lunch box.
Vacation is a vacation
I know this is going to be a tough one to sell but I look at the quarantine like extra days of this vacation / break. Don‘t answer emails or phone calls unless it‘s the Icelandic government. After all you are on vacation! Read a book or play some games. You could also prepare for your vacation in Iceland and read a travel guide. Look for an online language teaching system and learn Icelandic or surf through our page campericeland.is or support.campericeland.is. We have a lot of tips and tricks for you and you can learn about the vehicles. If you are renting a 4×4 you can read how to cross a river or more useful information is available on our page. A good thing to do is also looking for movies about the Icelandic history online. A good example would be Vikings on Netflix. Why did I start by saying it will be difficult to sell the idea of undergoing a quarantine just to travel? Well as of now I am sitting in the Airplane and thanks to Onboard Wi-Fi I can share the story on our web page. Perhaps the next 4-6 days will be so boring that I will write in my next part that it was all rubbish and that you should rather stay at home. We will see..
Stay tuned for Part 2
Learn about the first COVID-19 test in Iceland, the tracing app and how my 4-6 day quarantine will turn out. I will also let you know if I forgot to mention something in my first part.
Have fun! Be free and travel like a bird.