Iceland is now open to travelers that have been fully vaccinated with Pfizer/BioNTech (2 doses at least 19 days apart), Moderna (2 doses at least 28 days apart), AstraZeneca (2 doses at least 28 days apart), or Johnson & Johnson/Janssen (1 dose). Interestingly, they’re not requiring a 2 week waiting period after the final dose, which is what the CDC requires until you are considered fully vaccinated.
You still need to pre-register within 72 hours of departure to Iceland, but being vaccinated waives the requirement to have a negative COVID-19 test results and waives quarantine requirements and entry restrictions.
Andy reports that he flew from Boston to Reykjavik and was able to enter Iceland without a COVID test or quarantine by just presenting his barcode that he got when he pre-registered along with his CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card, which is given when you are vaccinated.
That’s great news as I wondered how other countries will treat the CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card given that it’s not a secure medium to prove vaccination. There is no way for countries to verify that the card is authentic and there isn’t a signature on the card from a provider. It was never intended to do what other countries would like it to do in order for them to reopen.
The number one question that people ask me these days is when Israel will finally reopen to tourists? The country closed their borders to foreign nationals over a year ago!
Some 50% of Israelis are now fully vaccinated. Testing on younger teens should be done by this summer, but testing on younger kids may not be done until this fall or winter. Lower doses intended for children of different ages will then have to be distributed. Will the country wait until then to fully reopen?
Israel now allows its own citizens to enter and leave the country, though only those who have been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 can skip quarantine upon return. If you test positive for COVID-19 antibodies in Israel you can also skip quarantine.
Foreign nationals still must apply for entry, though rules for who will receive permission have not yet been published. And they will need to quarantine in Israel unless they test positive for COVID-19 antibodies in Israel.
Will Israel recognize foreign vaccination?
The problem is that while Israel has a verifiable digital vaccine passport, no such creature exists in the US and in many other countries.
Israel has already experienced fraud when it comes to COVID testing, so they’re likely to assume that there will be fraud if they accept the CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card in order to enter the country and skip quarantine.
But what other options are there? Remain closed until ~90% of the population is vaccinated, which likely won’t happen this year?
They could “verify” a CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card by requiring an antibody test, though Israel would need to ramp up their ability to offer those tests and get back results in a timely manner. While rapid antibody tests can give results in just 15 minutes, those aren’t as reliable as traditional antibody tests. But perhaps that will be considered an acceptable risk when combined with a vaccination card? Otherwise a traditional antibody test would likely take at least 12 hours if not more. How would Israel trust foreign nationals to remain in quarantine until they got back their results?
Israel will hardly be alone in being more conservative than Iceland when it comes to fraud concerns. I’d imagine that we’ll see governments and private companies working to create ways to verify vaccinations, but that will take time to set up and may not be up and running in time to save the summer tourist season.
What do you think countries like Israel will do in order to reopen?