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It’s the big question on avid travelers’ minds, and though the rules around COVID-era travel change rapidly, we’ve gathered the latest information to help you plan for the future.
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This is a developing story. We will continue to update as the world changes. For the latest information on traveling during the coronavirus outbreak, visit the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. This article was last updated on August 6, 2020.
For many, the idea of going abroad is still unfathomable—like we’re suggesting we all go into space. (Actually, space sounds less threatening.) The COVID-19 pandemic continues and a vaccine is still in the works—but as we’ve noted in the past few weeks, after months of global lockdown to flatten the curve and the development of rapid coronavirus testing, several U.S. states and ever more countries have begun to reopen. As we tiptoe back outside, masks firmly on, we may start asking: What’s open? What’s safe? When will international travel be allowed? Will I be able to board a plane this year, or use my passport?
A few things to note about international travel during the COVID-19 crisis:
So how realistic is it to leave the United States? Will all trips have to be at least 14 days, or is there the possibility you can take a weekend break this summer, or visit your family over the holidays? It depends on the country—so let’s dig into the rules.
As of March 21, all nonessential travel between Canada, the United States, and Mexico has been prohibited. Border closures were extended to August 21 for U.S.-Canada and August 20 for U.S.-Mexico. In Canada and Mexico, as in the United States, individual states and provinces have the autonomy to decide their own reopening timeline.
Canada has shut its borders, but there are a number of exemptions including Canadian citizens, permanent residents, people registered under Canada's Indian Act, and approved workers and family members.
"Nonessential travel will be curtailed at land ports of entry, but travel deemed 'essential' will still be permitted and includes work and study, critical infrastructure support, economic services and supply chains, health, immediate medical care, and safety and security. Trade will also continue," reports USA Today.
The Canadian government’s COVID-19 response page is updated with the latest information.
The Mexican state of Quintana Roo, home to popular vacation spots like Cancun, Tulum, and Riviera Maya, reopened to tourists in June, with hotels getting a green light to start accepting reservations (after complying with new health and safety standards) and regularly scheduled flights resuming at Cancun International Airport. One report says U.S. travelers have checked into Quintana Roo hotels, despite borders remaining shut to nonessential travel.
Technically, air travel has been allowed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, along with train and sea travel; driving across the border, commuter rail, and ferry travel have been prohibited. Flights have still been arriving in Quintana Roo (albeit on a limited schedule and some nearly empty).
Upon arrival in Mexico, travelers face health screenings like temperature checks—Cancun’s airport has thermographic cameras that register travelers with fevers, the CPTQ director explained—and the possibility of being asked to return home or quarantine in Mexico if they are symptomatic.
Los Cabos announced a five-phase reopening plan that began June 1 with “limited travel activity” and the implementation of new health and safety standards. If COVID-19 cases remain low, Los Cabos will move to phase two—reopening the international terminal and resuming international visits—in July, with the hopes of reclaiming some of the estimated 1 million tourists it expects to be down in 2020. The tourism board also confirmed in a statement acquired by AFAR that “62 percent of the hotel inventory will resume operations while internationally airlines like Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Southwest, and Delta have already announced the return to the destination.”
The website for the U.S. embassy and consulates in Mexico are regularly updated with entry and exit information, and any other travel requirements.
In the Caribbean region, the number of reported COVID cases has been relatively low: The Dominican Republic has been on the higher end with 25,608 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 647 confirmed deaths to date, but in some countries like Aruba, the Bahamas, and the Cayman Islands, the number of reported cases was in the tens or low hundreds. Still, the concern is more about stopping community transmission and that includes from inbound travelers. Seaports and airports have been closed across the Caribbean since March and will resume on a country-by-country basis.
Per a separate Miami Herald article, a few Caribbean countries—Haiti, the Bahamas, and Antigua and Barbuda among them—plan to require visitors and returning nationals to show “virus-free” COVID-19 certificates and/or go through rapid testing for the novel coronavirus at airports once borders reopen.
"Antigua resumed flights from the United States on June 4, and now travelers from all countries are welcome to Antigua and Barbuda," reports AFAR's Lyndsey Matthews. "To be allowed into the country, travelers must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR (real-time polymerase chain reaction) test taken within seven days of their flight upon arrival at the airport. They will also need to complete a Health Declaration Form and a Traveler Accommodation Form (to assist with contact tracing if necessary). Other health screenings including temperature checks will also take place upon arrival at the airport."
As of July 10, travelers from the United States can visit, while those residing in hot spot states (see the updated listed at Aruba.com) will be required to take a PCR test for COVID-19 within 72 hours of departing and upload their negative results as part of an online Embarkation/Disembarkation process at least 12 hours before their flight to Aruba. If these steps are not followed, they will not be allowed to travel to Aruba.
Tentative dates for airlines to resume service to Aruba are listed on airportaruba.com. Upon arrival at the airport in Aruba, travelers can expect to undergo new screening measures including temperature checks. Mandatory travel requirements will soon be available on Aruba.com.
According to the Cayman Islands government, all airports will remain closed to international leisure and nonessential travel until at least September 1, 2020, reports Matthews.
Tourism resumed in the Dominican Republic on July 1, as airports throughout the country reopened to commercial flights from all international destinations. But on July 20, the government issued a new state of emergency, curfew, and lockdown into September.
Starting June 15, Jamaica reopened its borders to international tourists once again. American Airlines flights from Miami and Charlotte to Jamaica have resumed, as well as United flights from Newark, Delta flights from Atlanta, and Air Canada flights from Toronto.
Upon arrival, international tourists will be subjected to health screenings, including temperature checks and symptoms observation. However, COVID-19 tests will only be administered voluntarily to visitors with elevated temperatures or showing other symptoms. Those who are deemed high risk enough to warrant a test at the airport will be asked to self-quarantine at their hotel until the results are available.
"On July 15, Puerto Rico planned to join a growing list of Caribbean islands that are welcoming back nonessential travelers. But after a recent spike in COVID-19 cases, Puerto Rico’s Governor Wanda Vázquez announced major rollbacks on July 16, including the closure of bars and casinos and the restricted use of beaches. On July 20, Vázquez added that alcohol sales will be banned throughout Puerto Rico on Sundays, and most businesses will remain closed that day," reports AFAR's Lyndsey Matthews. Read the full story on Puerto Rico's reopening—and rollback.
Check the tourism website for the latest travel advisories.
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Starting June 22, St. Bart’s is reopening its airport and welcoming travelers from all countries if they’re able to produce negative COVID-19 test results obtained 72 hours prior to arrival. If you aren’t able to get tested prior to departure, you’ll have to agree to be tested upon arrival and quarantine at your hotel or vacation rental until the test results are received (typically within 24 hours). If test results come back negative, travelers will not have to quarantine any longer.
Those who plan on staying in St. Bart’s for longer than seven nights will need to be retested on the seventh day of their trip. If at any point positive test results are received, travelers will be asked to quarantine for 14 nights or until they test negative. Children under the age of 10 won’t need to be tested.
Starting on June 4, the country began a phased approach to reopening tourism and started welcoming flights into Hewanorra International Airport from the United States only. However, American Airlines won’t resume its service from the United States to St. Lucia until July.
In order to protect locals and visitors during Phase 1, the government requires all visitors to present certified proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of boarding their flights and undergo temperature checks upon arrival.
Turks and Caicos opened its borders and welcomed international visitors on July 22, 2020, with flight service returning to Providenciales International Airport from the United States, Canada, and Europe.
Here's a look at what some of the restrictions around the region:
At the end of April, Argentina announced it was banning all internal and international commercial flights until September, in response to the pandemic, reports CNBC. In addition, a national quarantine that began on March 20 has been extended until "at least through" July 17, according to the U.S. embassy in Argentina. As a result, borders remain closed to international visitors.
On May 22, Brazil extended its ban on foreigners arriving in the country by land, air, and sea through June 21. As of May 24, the U.S. government had banned flights from Brazil, reports the New York Times.
The Colombian government has banned all international travel in and out of the country.
Check the country's embassy page for up-to-date information.
Until August 1, Costa Rica has restricted land, sea, and air arrivals to Costa Rican citizens and residents. (Foreign diplomats and air travel crew are also exempt.)
Check the country's embassy page for up-to-date information.
Peru's national state of emergency and quarantine measures have been extended through June 30.
Check the country's embassy page for up-to-date information.
On March 17, European Union leaders agreed to impose travel restrictions on most foreigners entering Europe for at least 30 days to limit the spread of COVID-19, reports AFAR's Michelle Baran. Those restrictions were extended until June 15, 2020, and then again until July 1, 2020.
Baran also writes: "On June 26, the European Union revealed the list of countries whose travelers will be welcomed back to the continent when its external borders open on July 1, and it does not include the United States, according to a New York Times report. The European Union plans to continue to bar travelers from the United States due to the fact that the country has not brought the coronavirus outbreak under control."
The list will be updated every two weeks, which leaves open the possibility for countries to be added to or removed from it. While we continue to wait to find out when U.S. travelers might eventually be allowed to travel to Europe again, here is how several European countries are approaching travel from within and beyond Europe:
The country’s parliament voted to extend the state of emergency until July 24. It requires incoming visitors to self-isolate for two weeks after arrival.
Any updates are posted on Atout France, the website for the country’s tourism development agency.
Germany will lift its border controls within Europe on June 15, and citizens driving through from Switzerland, France, Austria, and Denmark will no longer be stopped. A ban on "non-essential" travel from 160 non-EU countries has been extended through August 31, reports DW News.
Germany’s tourism website has a thorough guide on current restrictions by country and individual travel regions.
As of June 15, travelers from the following countries can enter Greece on direct flights to Athens and the northern city of Thessaloniki: Albania, Australia, Austria, North Macedonia, Bulgaria, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Estonia, Japan, Israel, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lebanon, New Zealand, Lithuania, Malta, Montenegro, Norway, South Korea, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech Republic, and Finland.
Other direct international fights to the country’s tourist destinations will resume gradually from July 1, and the list of permitted countries will be expanded on or after that date, according to Greek officials. Passengers arriving from international airports in countries deemed higher risk by the European Union’s aviation safety agency will face compulsory COVID-19 testing and may be subject to quarantine for up to 14 days, depending on the test result.
Detailed information about Greece’s reopening plan is available on the country’s tourism website, Visit Greece. Read AFAR’s story on Greece’s reopening strategy.
The country opened June 15 to travelers from around the world, reports AFAR's Sara Button. Travelers will be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival at Keflavík International Airport, and if the test is negative, they will be free to enter without a quarantine. Travelers can also bring a certificate from their doctor declaring a clean bill of health, to be approved by health officials.
There is some confusion, of course: "We do not yet know whether U.S. citizens will be permitted entry after June 15 or how the COVID-19 testing upon arrival will work. U.S. citizens may also be required to self-quarantine upon their return to the U.S. from Iceland"—and the ban on travel to Europe's Schengen area, which includes Iceland, remains in effect through July 1, per the U.S. Embassy in Reykjavik.
Iceland has a designated website for tourism and COVID-19; it is maintained by the Directorate of Health and the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management. Read AFAR's story on Iceland's reopening strategy.
As of June 3, Italy has begun welcoming back visitors. These travelers will not need to self-quarantine for two weeks; these new regulations don’t apply to residents of the United States. According to the government decree, these new rules only apply to people arriving from member countries of the European Union, countries within the Schengen Zone, as well as the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, and the microstates and principalities of Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and the Vatican.
Get the latest information from Italia, the country’s tourism branch. Read AFAR’s story on Italy’s reopening strategy.
Currently, travelers from EU countries, as well as Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland, are allowed entry by air, according to information posted at Portugal’s Immigration and Borders Service website. This doesn't include travelers from the U.S.: According to tourism officials, only Portuguese or dual citizens and residents and family members can enter "until reciprocal entry rights are granted for U.S. arrivals by visitors traveling from the Schengen area. It is hoped that this will be in place by July 1."
Stay informed by checking the current regulations on Visit Portugal's website. Read AFAR's story on Portugal's reopening strategy.
On May 23, Spain's prime minister Pedro Sánchez announced that the country’s international borders will reopen to nonessential travel in July. No other details were provided about who will be allowed in and what safety precautions will be taken to ensure the safety of visitors and locals, reports AFAR's Lyndsey Matthews.
Spain’s official tourism website has the latest practical information on traveling to the country.
Travel to Sweden from EU countries, the U.K., and Switzerland is currently not restricted, and the ban on nonessential travel to Sweden from non-EU countries is slated to end on June 30. Sweden does not require inbound travelers to quarantine.
On June 12, Turkey lifted its coronavirus travel restrictions. International travelers visiting Turkey will all be subject to a medical screening upon arrival.
As of June 8, "anyone who arrives in the United Kingdom is now required to self-isolate for 14 days, or for the duration of their stay, whichever is shorter," reports AFAR's Michelle Baran. Both international visitors and British nationals returning home from abroad will have to provide U.K. border control with their contact details, including their phone number, and the address of their U.K. accommodation where they will self-isolate for two weeks. Travelers arriving from within the U.K., Ireland, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man are exempt. If you do not self-isolate or provide accurate contact details, you can be fined up to £3,200 (about $4,070).
Get the latest on travel to the U.K. on Visit Britain’s website.
Africa counts 54 countries in its “group,” according to the United Nations. Most countries in the world’s second largest (and second most populous) continent have slashed the number of international flights, and others—like Namibia—have cracked down even harder. Here’s a look at what they’re currently allowing:
"Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta announced on Monday a phased reopening of the country from a COVID-19 lockdown, lifting restrictions on travel in and out of the capital Nairobi and allowing air travel to resume," Reuters reports. International flights will return August 1. Read more about Kenya’s rules on the U.S. embassy’s site.
The government’s “Health State of Emergency” is in effect until August 10. Though as of July 15, Royal Air Maroc (RAM) began operating a weekly direct flight between Casablanca to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). The airline has indicated that flight’s continued operation will be based on demand, according to the U.S. Embassy and Consulate in Morocco, which regularly posts updates on its website.
Commercial flights are not available out of Namibia, and may not resume until "at least" September 18, 2020.
Stay up to date with updates from the U.S. embassy in Namibia.
Rwanda remains open for tourism but has adopted its policies to be more flexible for cancellations. A March brief from Visit Rwanda also mentions that “increased surveillance measures at all points of entry using high-tech equipment and medics to screen and check travel histories of all visitors, have intensified.”
Get the latest information on travel in Rwanda from the Rwanda Development Board's guidelines for reopening tourist activities.
On March 15, South Africa’s government declared a state of disaster and placed a ban on travelers from the United States, United Kingdom, China, Italy, Germany, South Korea, Iran, and Spain, reports Bloomberg. Travelers who have also visited any of the high-risk countries recently may also be denied, and those from countries like Portugal, Hong Kong, and Singapore will have to undergo screening. A tourism lobbying group is working with the governrment to reopen to travelers bhy September 2020. Read the full story.
Check the official page for the U.S. embassy and consulates in South Africa for updates.
The largest continent in the world—by both area and population—Asia lays claim to around 50 of the world’s countries. (The specific number varies, based on what you count as a territory and whether or not the Pacific region is included.) Rules and regulations around who can enter these countries vary greatly, but here are the most visited countries in the region, and what they’re allowing:
In late March, China closed its borders indefinitely to foreigners—even those with residency in China. Diplomats are an exception, and new visas will only otherwise be considered “for necessary economic, trade, scientific or technological activities or out of emergency humanitarian needs,” according to a release from China’s foreign ministry. Officials note the ban is “temporary,” and the release mentions the following: “The above-mentioned measures will be calibrated in light of the evolving situation and announced accordingly.”
In a May 5 brief from India’s Bureau of Immigration, the government notes that “all incoming passenger traffic” is prohibited. Also outlined: “All scheduled international commercial passenger services shall remain closed till prohibition on international travel of passengers from/to India is lifted by the Government of India.”
Vacation destinations such as Bali, Yogyakarta on Java, as well as Batam and Bintan in the Riau Islands may reopen to international visitors in October, according to a statement by the secretary of Indonesia’s Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy. The secretary also noted that a Cleanliness, Health, and Safety program, or CHS, will be tested in Bali before rolling out nationwide. CHS will involve “the verification, audit, and certification of attractions, hotels, and establishments by relevant organizations.”
Since April, Japan has banned foreign travelers originating from (or who have visited) more than 75 specific countries and regions—the United States included. The country has said the measures will remain in place “for the time being, unless there are exceptional circumstances.”
The Japan National Tourism Organization has a comprehensive guide to who is allowed in the country and when.
On March 25, Singapore’s government issued a statement, announcing that “all short-term visitors will not be allowed to enter or transit through Singapore.”
The Singapore Tourism Board has a handy guide to the latest updates for tourists.
Since April 1, anyone entering South Korea must self-quarantine for 14 days, according to the South Korean government. Asymptomatic entrants from abroad will also be tested, depending on how long they’ll be in the country and where they’re traveling from.
Visit Korea, the country’s tourism board, has a flowchart for travelers arriving into the country—and what they can expect.
As of April 23, domestic flights, public transportation, and restaurants are back in service in Vietnam—a sign that international travel isn’t too far behind. According to Skift, the country is discussing “travel bubbles” with China and South Korea and then plans to gradually open up slowly to other countries in the region, like Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Taiwan. For the time being, though, entry into the country is restricted to Vietnamese nationals, foreigners on diplomatic or official business, and highly skilled workers.
Vietnam’s tourism website has up-to-date guidelines on visiting the country.
New Zealand has been an early success story, nearly eliminating coronavirus in the country of 5 million; much credit goes to a strict lockdown enacted by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s government in late March, when only 100 people had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, reports the Associated Press.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also been praised for his handling of the coronavirus response. Here's what tourism and travel restrictions look like in the two countries:
The country has moved to "alert level 1" of its reopening with shops, cafés, offices, and parks opening—though the borders remain closed to all international travelers. A possible trans-Tasman travel bubble has been considered with Australia, though “we will not have open borders for the rest of the world for a long time to come,” Ardern said.
Check out the government's "key updates" page on COVID-19 for more information about travel to New Zealand.
At present, only Australian residents, citizens, and family members are allowed to travel to the country.
More information about travel to Australia can be found on the country's tourism website.
With additional reporting by Lyndsey Matthews and Michelle Baran.
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