Iceland’s border opens June 15, but Americans aren’t welcome

Jun 8, 2020

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Update 6/10/20: Icelandair has added four round-trip flights between Boston and Iceland during the second half of June — on June 17, 20, 24 and 27 — however, tourists from countries outside of Europe’s Schengen zone, including the United States, will not be permitted entry in June. Connecting passengers can book these four Boston flights, assuming they’re eligible to enter their destination of choice in Europe. As of now, Iceland is planning to welcome a broader group of visitors beginning July 1, but that plan remains subject to change.

This time next week, I thought I’d be exploring an unthinkably quiet Iceland.

The island nation, which has grown incredibly popular with summer tourists over the years, is still closed to visitors until June 15. And on that date, anyone entering the country will either need to undergo a COVID-19 test at the airport, or self-quarantine for 14 days. But I was happy — eager, even — to submit to the test.

Sadly, as it turns out, my trip is off the table. While some visitors will indeed be welcome to visit Iceland, Americans don’t fall into that fortunate group.

On Monday, just one week before my planned arrival date, Icelandair released its updated flight schedule. My flight from Boston is still available to book, but it won’t operate as expected, likely leading to even more confusion among Iceland-bound hopefuls in the U.S. Instead, for the second half of June, the carrier will only operate service between Keflavík Airport (KEF) and the European cities below, including London Heathrow (LHR), Amsterdam (AMS) and Munich (MUC), among others:

Image courtesy of Great Circle Mapper.
Image courtesy of Great Circle Mapper.

According to an Icelandair spokesperson, the border will remain closed to any tourists from outside Europe’s Schengen Area, including visitors from the United States. As of now, the country plans to accept a broader group of visitors beginning July 1, but my previous advice still stands: Don’t book flights or nonrefundable hotel stays until you know you’ll be able to take the trip.

Ultimately, I’m disappointed I won’t get to experience Iceland with relatively few tourists, but considering that the United States has by far the greatest number of COVID-19 cases of any country in the world, I can’t say I’m terribly surprised we’re not yet welcome.

For now, I’m staying at home. While some countries will accept Americans, including destinations in the Caribbean, Iceland — which hasn’t reported any new coronavirus cases — seemed like an especially safe bet.

Featured photo by ronnybas/Getty Images.


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