Will testing requirements for travel soon be a thing of the past?

Are COVID Testing Requirements for Travel Soon To Be a Thing of the Past?

Tuesday, Italy became the latest in a growing line of countries to drop the testing requirement for vaccinated travellers.

According to the new rules set out by the national tourist officenon-EU citizens can enter using an equivalent green COVID-19 certification issued by their country’s health authorities, certifying one of the following: a completed vaccination cycle with a vaccine recognized by the European Medicines Agency (EMA ), a complete recovery from COVID-19 19, or a negative molecular or antigen test.

Similar announcements have been made each week, with more countries – most recently Canada, France, Portugal, Finland and Lithuania among others – scrapping testing requirements. That’s a pretty big development, considering how much of the world is still battling Omicron; of course, the only major caveat is that for travelers to circumvent the testing requirement, they must be vaccinated.

That said, there are also now a handful of countries that have also started removing the COVID vaccine requirement for travellers. El Salvador, Iceland, Norway and Mexico welcome all visitors regardless of their vaccination status, with no testing and no quarantine required upon arrival.

Commenting on the number of cases in Europe juxtaposed with the easing of travel restrictions, a senior World Health Organization official in the region – Dr Hans Kluge – explained that, whether because of vaccination or recovery from an infection, many people now have some level of immunity, so many areas are now entering a “higher protection period”. Moreover, according to a report by The New York Timesit should be seen as a “ceasefire” and “a plausible endgame” to the pandemic.

So, will the COVID testing requirements for traveling abroad soon be among the best? The answer is…maybe. Or, more exactly, Probably. Particularly given the inconsistencies in testing – for example, some countries require PCRs, while others accept rapid tests, some allow a test within 72 hours, others just a day – and the lack reliability of tests in general. But the fact that some countries are already working to eradicate all travel restrictions seem to be a pretty big indicator.

Will less stringent vaccine requirements soon follow? This seems exponentially more difficult to predict, although it may be more relevant in the case of more traditionally touristic countries. Destinations whose economies have been fueled by tourism, at least historically, are no doubt keen to remove as many remaining barriers to entry as possible, in order to help revive an industry now long dormant.

But even still, it is more important than ever to know the rules and requirements of each country before a trip there. If there’s anything we know for sure two years later, it’s that – for better or for worse – things can change in the blink of an eye. Better keep that extra COVID test in your carry-on for a bit longer, just to be safe.