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How Travel Rules Are Easing Around the World

How Travel Rules Are Easing Around the World

The Covid-19 rules for travelers are changing again. But this time they become easier.

Countries like Ireland, Iceland and Norway have eliminated all travel testing and vaccination rules. Others, like France and England, have eliminated pre-departure testing for fully vaccinated people entering the country.

The rules vary widely and change often. Some countries require reminders for travelers to be considered fully vaccinated upon entry, while others drop Covid-19 requirements altogether. Travel advisors suggest taking a close look at entry requirements for specific countries and destinations like Hawaii, as well as rules for inland venues, which may vary by city or region.

“It’s not as simple as ‘Did you have a hit or not?’ says Samantha Collum, chief operating officer and senior travel consultant at River Oaks Travel Concierge in Houston.

Ireland ended Covid-19 requirements for travelers over the weekend. Travelers no longer need to present proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative Covid-19 test to enter. The country the Ministry of Health said that the quick change was made to facilitate travel for people leaving Ukraine and neighboring countries for Ireland.

Iceland removed all border and national Covid-19 restrictions in February, and Norway then adopted similar entry measures.

Effective April 1, Costa Rica will no longer require unvaccinated travelers to have additional Covid-19 medical insurance to enter the country, according to the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica.

Israel closed its borders to foreign travelers at the end of 2021. The country now allows unvaccinated travelers to enter the countrybut requires all tourists, regardless of their vaccination status, to take a PCR test within 72 hours before flying to the country, and another upon landing in Israel, where they must be quarantined until 24 hours until they receive a negative result.

Passengers boarding a Qantas flight last week in Australia.


Photo:

James D. Morgan/Getty Images

Other countries that were closed to tourists have recently opened their borders. Australia began allowing fully vaccinated tourists to enter the country without quarantine in February. Starting Monday, fully vaccinated travelers from 23 countries, including the United States, can skip quarantine on the Indonesian island of Bali.

Margi Arnold, owner of Creative Travel Adventures in Denver, says many customers traveling to Europe have received booster shots. “It’s really going to be the best way to travel and feel more confident about booking your travel plans,” she says.

France is one of the countries requiring a booster dose for some foreign visitors. It does this for travelers 18 and older if it has been more than nine months since their first round of vaccinations.

Many countries have simplified entry requirements for fully vaccinated travellers. In some cases, this means that visitors must have received booster shots. Aruba is allowing those who received booster shots at least seven days before travel to skip the Covid-19 test otherwise required for entry.

The United States requires travelers to test negative within a day before flying back into the country.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continue advise against travel to more than 130 destinations, including France, Iceland and the United Kingdom, depending on the number of Covid-19 cases. Larger destinations are classified as having a “very high” level of Covid-19 if more than 500 new reported cases per 100,000 people have been reported in the last 28 days.

What is an endemic and how will we know when Covid-19 becomes one? The WSJ’s Daniela Hernandez explains how public health experts assess when a virus like Covid-19 enters an endemic phase. Photo: Michael Nagle/Zuma Press

Dr. Henry Wu, associate professor of infectious diseases at Emory University School of Medicine and director of the Emory TravelWell Center, says more and more governments are putting more responsibility on individuals in decision-making. But fewer requirements don’t mean travelers have to ditch all precautions, he says. Dr Wu suggests travelers get vaccinated and boosted if eligible, as well as get tested before visiting high-risk people and wear masks in high-risk places.

“If you want to be a smart traveler, just minimize the risk of getting sick somewhere or making someone sick, that’s how you do it,” he says. Travelers should remember that there is a risk of getting stuck in another country after a positive test result, he says.

Travel industry groups sent a letter late last month to Jeffrey Zients, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, asking for the removal of the pre-departure testing requirement for inbound travelers fully vaccinated. They also called for the repeal of the federal mask mandate for public transportation, which is in place until March 18.

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Destinations waive vaccination rules for indoor venues. France will no longer require people to show a Covid-19 vaccine pass to access many covered sites from March 14, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced last week.

Most domestic destinations have relaxed mask requirements. Puerto Rico is eliminating its indoor mask mandate for most sites on Thursday and will no longer require U.S. travelers to show proof of vaccination or a negative test for entry from then on.

A notable exception is Hawaii, the only state that has not announced its intention to drop its indoor mask mandate. But Hawaii will end its Safe Travels program for domestic travelers later this month. It requires travelers to present proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test to avoid quarantine. From March 26, arriving domestic passengers will not be subject to any Covid-19 related requirements.

While many countries in Europe have relaxed entry requirements, many countries in Asia and Africa that are open still require pre-departure testing and proof of vaccinations, says Jemica Archer, owner of TruBlue Travels. in Jacksonville, Florida.

Ms Archer says she always exercises caution when booking trips for clients. Although the rules are now relaxing, new variations could still emerge and restrictions may change. “Next month it could be, ‘We’re getting tighter again,'” she says.

Write to Allison Pohle at [email protected]

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