Practical advice for schools travelling to Iceland this October

Thursday, 9th July 2020

Katherine Woollett

iceland snaefellsnes kirkjufell beautiful sunset istk

The ease in travel restrictions has left some group leaders undecided about planning for their upcoming school trip to Iceland. The recent Department for Education’s announcement on overseas school trips has created further confusion for many.

Whilst we would usually reserve the following advice exclusively to those schools who have booked with Discover the World Education, we understand the difficult position so many schools are in and that some of you might be struggling to get comprehensive information from elsewhere. We have prepared this blog to try and answer as many of your questions as possible, however, in these current circumstances, the situation is still very fluid and so we will aim to provide additional guidance later in the summer.

Is Iceland safe?

As you can see from this video, Iceland is a fantastic choice for schools who are still hoping to travel. Below are some of the headlines as to why;

  • Recent incidence of covid-19 in Iceland has been very low, with an effective testing, tracking and tracing scheme in place for some time.
  • The effective control of covid-19 in recent weeks and months means that life is able to run mostly as normal in Iceland

What happens when you arrive in Iceland?

  • Masks are required whilst in Keflavík airport.
  • Covid-19 testing is carried out upon arrival in Iceland.
    • This is required for all arrivals born 2004 or earlier. Those born 2005 or later are exempt.
    • The test costs 11,000 ISK (approx £64) per person or 9,000 ISK (approx £53) if a pre-arrival online registration is completed up to three days before landing.
    • Isolation or waiting at the airport is not required after testing, but the testing process will cause a small delay to your arrival through the airport.
    • Test results are sent by text in 4-24 hours.

What happens when you are out and about in Iceland?

Masks:

  • With covid-19 effectively absent in the community in Iceland, wearing masks is not mandatory once outside the airport. Some locals and tourists will use them, but their use is not widespread.
  • Whilst on the coach, you are encouraged to wear a mask or suitable face covering.

Social Distancing:

  • With covid-19 effectively absent in the community in Iceland, social distancing is not mandatory.
  • Government recommendations advise Icelandic companies in the hospitality and tourism industries to provide guests with “the opportunity to maintain a distance of 2 meters from other people whenever practicable. The distance will be interpreted more as a societal norm and courtesy for individuals who are vulnerable or have a preference for such distancing.”
  • Some but not all shops, restaurants and activity locations have reduced capacity in order to make social distancing easier for guests.
  • Groups travelling together as a unit are not considered to need social distancing in place within the group and so coach transport capacity and accommodation rooming allocation are as normal for groups.
  • Public or private gatherings of over 500 people are not permitted.

Travel:

  • Groups travelling together are considered as a unit. Different guidance applies to transport that is used by mixed members of the public.
  • Coaches are operating at normal capacity with additional hygiene measures in place.
  • Whilst on the coach, you are encouraged to wear a mask or suitable face covering.
  • Coaches are cleaned with disinfectant at the end of each day.
  • Hand sanitiser is available at the coach doors and on board.

Please note, this information has been provided by Discover the World Educations chosen coach company and some of this information may differ if you are travelling with a different provider.

Accommodation and food:

  • Government guidelines include requirements of surfaces in communal and private areas that must be frequently disinfected.
  • Hand sanitiser is available in communal areas.
  • Groups travelling together as a unit are not considered to need social distancing in place within the group and so rooming allocation is offered as normal for groups.
  • Buffets are permitted but there are stipulations.

Swimming:

  • Swimming pools are open as normal in Iceland. A requirement for pools and gyms to operate at reduced capacity ended 15 June.
  • The usual requirement for guests to shower without swimming costume before entering the pool is made particularly clear to maintain hygiene.

What happens if someone exhibits covid-19 symptoms?

  • Whilst in Iceland, if a passenger becomes ill with fever or has a persistent cough, or difficulty breathing, call +354 544 4113 where a health care professional will give further information and guidance. All medical advice and treatment for covid-19 in Iceland is free, excluding the test on arrival.
  • The emergency services number in Iceland is 112.

What happens if someone tests positive for covid-19?

  • Positive test results will require the person(s) to self-isolate, this can be at “a specialised isolation centre at no cost to them”. Those in close proximity to an infected person(s) including sat within 2-3 rows of a positive testing person will likely also be required to isolate. Aside from the initial test, medical treatment or quarantine accommodation and food is provided at no cost to the patient.
  • A group who share the same exposure can be quarantined together. Someone with covid-19 is required to quarantine until ten days after symptoms end. Those who have had close exposure to a positive covid-19 case are required to quarantine for 14 days after last exposure

Making a Decision

We would of course love to see many schools run their upcoming trips, but we also fully appreciate the pressure in schools right now and that the uncertainty might be hindering your decision making. If you are undecided on how to proceed, we strongly recommend you carefully reflect on the implications of the possible changes in travel advice and potential added costs incurred. You should also carefully consider what insurance cover your school has in place and where your travel provider can support you, particularly if you are considering cancelling.

Any groups travelling with Discover the World Education will have received our comprehensive PDF which is being updated regularly, as government and FCO advice changes. If you are travelling with Discover the World Education and have any further questions. Please email our travel specialists at travel@discover-education.co.uk.

Looking for more information?

Don’t miss our upcoming “Running a school trip after COVID-19” webinar. 

In this session, Karen Corfield will reflect on her 20 years’ experience as a teacher and assistant head, along with her extensive guiding and travel industry knowledge, she’ll cover considerations such as the likely barriers and solutions to launching and running a trip, health and safety considerations and travel logistics and other practical information.

Register now >>

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