COVID-19 – Greenland extends entry regulations | Polarjournal
Since phase 1 of the reopening of Greenland on June 15, 2020, there have been no new COVID-19 cases. Authorities want to wait with transition to Phase 2 until test capacity is set up in other cities outside of Nuuk. In the picture you can see a part of Uummannaq. (Photo: Heiner Kubny)

No new cases of COVID-19 have occurred since the resumption of passenger flights on June 15, but Greenland is extending its entry requirements until July 20 and says they are proving effective in keeping new COVID-19 infections out of the territory.

The entry from Denmark takes place in Kangerlussuaq, as in the picture with Air Greenland. (Photo: Heiner Kubny)

Phase 1 of Greenland’s reopening strategy started on June 15, 2020, with the government allowing entry for up to 600 passengers per week. The precondition was that the COVID-19 reproduction rate in Denmark was below one. This means that for each person with the coronavirus, less than one person has been infected.

Travellers arriving in Greenland must prove that they have been tested negative for COVID-19 within the last five days. They must then undergo a self-quarantine and be tested again on the fifth day after their arrival in Greenland. If the test is negative, the quarantine can be lifted.

On July 2, the government announced that 3,850 passengers had been tested since reopening on June 15 and that there were no positive COVID-19 cases.

Aid package for Greenland tourism

Recently, the government and the Tourism Association announced that a relief package will be set up to promote tourism. The question now is whether anyone wants to go to Greenland with the easier entry travel regulations that are coming out according to Phase 2. However, it makes little sense as a visitor to be quarantined for for 5 days before any booked trip can take place.

But the problems start earlier! As Greenland is currently only accessible via Copenhagen, the entry regulations for Denmark must be kept in mind. These state that when entering Denmark, a booking of at least six nights must be available in a hotel. This also applies to the airport hotel. This rule does not affect travellers who do not leave the airport. However, as the flight to Kangerlussuaq leaves Copenhagen in the morning and the return flight is only back in the evening, a further journey is NOT possible without overnight stay in Copenhagen.

The tourism promotion of the Greenlandic authorities is well in common, but it is hardly to be expected that in these difficult conditions anyone will venture into Greenland.

Not ready to enter Phase 2

The Greenlandic government says further vigilance is needed before moving on to Phase 2 of Greenland’s reopening plan. “We have decided to wait to get a full picture of the consequences of the increased opening of Denmark, Iceland and the Faroe Islands to travellers so that we can best identify a possible spread of the infection,” Greenland’s Prime Minister Kim Kielsen said in a press release.

Kim Kielsen is a Greenlandic politician and has been Prime Minister of Greenland since 2014. (Photo: Government of Greenland)

Kielsen also said he wanted more time to purchase personal protective equipment and test equipment that could be distributed to communities outside the capital Nuuk.

“We are also waiting for test equipment for the regional hospitals, and it is important to know when the equipment will arrive when discussing any further opening,” Kielsen said.

“As long as all tests continue to be analyzed in Nuuk, further opening is not appropriate, as testing and rapid test analysis are important elements of the containment strategy,” the government added in a press release. Overall, there have been 11 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Greenland since the start of the pandemic, but all people have since recovered and there have been no new cases since the end of March.

Entry requirements for Greenland include a negative COVID-19 test within the last five days and a completed localization form called a Sumut form. (Photo: Government of Greenland)

Current entry regulations / 09.07.2020

Phase 1: Authorisation of a maximum of 600 persons per week who are allowed to travel to Greenland once the COVID-19 reproduction rate in Denmark is below one, which means that for each person with the coronavirus, less than one person is infected. Phase 1 entered into force on June 15, 2020.

Phase 2: 1200 passengers are allowed to travel to Greenland once a week, with a reproduction rate in Denmark below 0.7. Phase 2 will not enter into force until July 20, 2020 at the earliest.

Phase 3: No restrictions on the number of air passengers once the COVID-19 reproduction rate in Denmark drops below 0.5 and the percentage of infected Danes is less than 1 percent of the total population.

It is strongly recommended to study the current entry regulations before travelling to Greenland.

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

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