Dear Friends of Camper Iceland
I booked a flight to Iceland! I landed in Iceland and was tested for COVID! Are you interested in knowing what happens after landing in Iceland? Make sure to read my story and if you have not read the first part make sure you do. I tell you how I prepared for the trip and what you must do in accordance to the new and changed regulation from the Icelandic government. The first part can be found here..
Before we continue, I want to show you the beautiful weather while landing in Iceland. After the video you will find the answer what happens when you land in Iceland.
My name is Daniel, and I am writing this story to give you an idea what is going on in Iceland. Ever since I was a small kid I travelled to and from Iceland but never before did I wear a mask while traveling. This new experience also triggered a big laugh, I warn you, I can be quite sarcastic in a funny way. Announcement: “You are allowed to take the mask off while drinking water or eating the food you brought along.” I laughed and pictured my fellow neighbor trying to eat and drink with the mask on. It gets even funnier, the safety announcement: “Make sure to take off your mask before putting the oxygen mask on!”. LoL.. By the way icelanders refer to Iceland as “HOME” no matter where they are or live. Hence, the first thing Icelandair announces after landing is “WELCOME HOME” or “VELKOMIN HEIM”.
We have landed
The airline announces that it has to disembark 2 seat rows at a time. Of course there is always somebody from out of space that does not understand human language and has to try to do the opposite. In my case it was a young Swiss guy that tried to get out of the plane even before the seatbelt sign was turned off. The stewardess told him several times to stay where he is and sit down again. Still, he managed to run out of the plane as soon as it opened. What a douche, I thought and kept waiting until it was my turn. Once I got out of the plane it was to my surprise that we were asked to go into a bus. Why would they not use the finger dock? Then it hit me, of course they would not use the finger dock. It reminded me at the time when I helped out at a farm, and we were trying to get the sheep to go through a certain door. Times have changed and now we, the passengers, are like the sheeps. The employees at the airports are the farmer and they want us sheep to go through a certain door and down a certain path. Many employees stand there asking the passengers to go into the bus and nowhere else. Once all passengers are in the bus, we drive off. 50 Meters later we stop, the bus driver opens each door separately, and we, the “sheep” run along like crazy idiots trying to get through the door and into the airport. Of course half of us got stuck in the door because everyone wants to be the first one inside. Once we run up the stairs, 7 employees including the police are trying to talk to us, but we are sheep and do not understand, we just want to run. Its hilarious, really… I stop to listen to the police woman as she speaks to one passenger: “Hello! Where is your barcode!!!”, “What barcode?” The passenger replies. “The one for the covid test!” the police woman yells. “Ahaa, that one!” the passenger replies and now with 2 bags, a jacket and a bottle of water in the hand stalls to search for the barcode. After that is sorted out we reach the second barricade where we are asked to provide barcode again. Only this time the employee of the airport checks if we have paid for the test. If you pay in advance it costs 9.000 ISK but if you pay on spot it is 11.000 ISK. I have to pay but the machine will not read my barcode. Finally, it works, I pay and then I can continue. Before I do I notice that I am the last one that came out of the plane. Everybody else have run off towards the COVID-19 test. It seems that they think they can save time if they do not need to wait in line. To my biggest surprise I notice that I am not the last one at all. The douche bag that could not wait (remember the guy that had to be the first one out of the airplane) is behind me and his credit card does not work. Well buddy! Karma got you! I thought to myself.. he was the last one to get tested.
The COVID-19 TEST
Once you reach the upper floor there are 10 or more COVID booth. A nice lady tells people where to go and without waiting I am asked to go into a booth and have a seat. A nice young fellow tells me that he is going to test me and asks for the barcode. Please scan it in yourself he tells me and starts getting two pointy things and a plastic canteen from a drawer. “I am going to perform two tests, one is in the mouth and painless. The other one is a bit uncomfortable.” The young man states. I look at him, smile and say: “Just get on with it, who cares!”. He replies: “I love your attitude” and tells me to say AHHHHHHH while he sticks this pointy thingy in my mouth. Then he sticks the other thing up my nose and to be honest I did not even know that you can put something up the nose this far without touching the brain. It felt a bit strange, no pain and once it was out I thought I had to sneeze but instead one eye started to generate tears. No worries, this is easy as pie. I thank the guy and it seems I am free to go.
In front of me where 4 young Swiss travelers and one girl seemed to have the lead due to language skills. She was really honest and toldthe border control exactly what they are going to do: “Can we fetch a rental car or how can we get to the hotel? Can we then go to the Hotel and stay one night and then go to the next hotel.” Most Swiss people are really nice and try to do waht they are told. The idea is this:, you are allowed:
- Fetch your car
- Stay your first night at a different place f.e. near the airport (only if necessary)
- Then stay somewhere for 4-6 days (same place) and remember you are under quarantine.
- Download the app (tracing) to receive the news if you have COVID-19 (test result)
- You get a paper from the border control that tells you everything
Sorry for the 4-6 day answer. I know that you want to know is it 4, 5 or 6 days but the government does not tell us. They call you if you have the virus, if not you receive at least one SMS and the app should notify you too. I will write an exact timeline when I did what and received what answer. Remember that we Icelanders are normally pretty easy going but people are stressed out because of this virus. Still, the honest to god situation is this:
The regulation changes all the time and can change without notice (those where the excact words of the nice border control person). People do the best to act accordingly and please be fair! You do not want to be responsible for spreading the virus and probably harm a weaker person. So, by keeping a distance of 2 meters, wearing a mask and cleaning the hands you are already doing great things. The paper I received (translating from Icelandic):
- You may get medical attention if necessary. Contact the next doctor for information on how to approach this.
- You are allowed to go walking / hiking where few people are and by keeping a minimum distance of 2 meters.
- You are allowed to drive around in your car or rental car but not to stop and be in contact with people f.e. though drive in windows or directly.
- Not allowed to be in contact with other people in the building and maintain a high standard in hygiene. Minimum distance 1-2 m when crossing paths with someone.
- Not allowed using public transportation only taxi, own car or rental car.
- Not allowed to go to restaurants, bars, meet people, go to the gym, swimming pool, movies, shops, grocery stores. Basically you need someone to shop for you. Or you order in.
- May not go to work or to school.
- May not drive long distances or go sightseeing. Do not drive from one district to the next.
There you have it, and they tell you that on the fourth day you get information blablabla but here is how it was for me:
16:15 I paid for the COVID TEST at the airport
16:20 The test was performed
21:26 I received an SMS that I do not have the virus
21:28 I received an E-Mail with instructions how to take the second test on the 27.08.20 with an address in Reykjavík where I can go unannounced. If you are not in Reykjavík there is a link and f.e. Keflavík: You have to make an appointment and go to the hospital. Park your car and stay in the car, someone will come to the car and take the test.
05:41 I received the same SMS again that I do not have the virus. Probably because in some cases people do not receive SMS, so they send it twice, plus an email, plus the app tells you. If nothing happens and the phone works you probably do not have the virus or else they would call you. Check the email and make sure to take the second test. The usual warnings that they will contact you if you do not show up and the legal consequences are pointed out in the mail. Don’t be an A-Hole, take the second test, follow the instructions and help us keep Iceland save.
The first COVID TEST
This was and is my first time that I got tested for COVID-19. It was a good feeling to get the result even though I knew I did not have the virus. The first day in Iceland I took a cab to my car and then drove to my apartment where I will stay during the quarantine. The cab ride was interesting because I had not spoken to locals that know whats happening for some time. The taxi driver told me that the summer had been strange. Little til nothing to do and sometimes the airplane would bring but one person to Iceland. It made me really sad because this is hard on everybody. Many people do not realize that tourism is more than airplanes, rental cars and hotels. Even a famous bakery had to close because there are no tourists to eat the bread. Imagine milk, cheese production without 1-2 million tourists. Basically the missing income will affect everyone. First it’s the tourism business, then all the providers around tourism and last the authorities. Yes, the missing tourists and generated income will result in less taxes paid. Talking about government, the taxi driver told me (and I read it in the news) that the highest ranking officials all went for lunch in this hotel. Someone had COVID, the hotel is now closed and all the officials had to go to quarantine. Just when the government wanted to loosen the rules again! No one is safe from the virus but let us focus on the positive things. The negative vibes from this COVID will only make you sad.
Yes, we also have a winner! Nature will hopefully benefit from it. Like I pointed out before I have travelled a lot to and from Iceland for over 40 years and the airport reminded me at the old times when I was a kid. Perhaps 10 persons at the currency exchange, 2 guys looking for a customer (instead of 100 guys with signs). The duty free shop was open but no one in it, I had to desinfect my hands and then put on gloves. The shop outside border control was empty.
What to do during quarantine
I used the early morning to go for my allowed hike / running. I met no one, did not even see or hear anyone, perhaps because it’s a Sunday and no one is awake at 0500 hrs local time. Only me it seems and even though I look exhausted it was a wonderful morning. It was over 30 degrees Celsius in Switzerland and getting out of the building this early was indeed refreshing. Within seconds, I was really awake and the fresh air is just astonishing here in Iceland. A tough of freshness and ocean breeze! I am not trying to sell the idea of going to quarantine but so far I can relax and it feels like the break I needed for a long time. Here is a short video of the early morning:
Part 3 of 3
In my next part I will tell you about the quarantine time and the second COVID-19 test. Stay tuned, travel and have fun!