Travel 2021-Getting Restarted Soon:
Navigating the thicket of travel restrictions in 2021 can feel like making your way out of a jungle! March 11, 2021 marked the one-year anniversary since the World Health Organization declared Coronavirus was a pandemic. For one-year much of the world’s commerce and travel has come to a halt.
In recent years, the zika and ebola viruses have resulted in more limited travel advisories. With up to a ninety percent death rate, ebola is a worse-case scenario. Even with the growth of easy cross-border and international travel, there has been little, if any, effective procedures to avoid the prospect of a worldwide pandemic. Long-time travelers will remember carrying WHO’s “Yellow Card” to prove vaccination for such diseases as Yellow Fever.
In 2009, the “Swine Flu Epidemic” was actively spreading in China. Ironically, I was heading there for my next solo adventure combining a land package with a Yangtze River cruise. With a relatively low death rate, my biggest concern was that I would be quarantined on arrival and sent to an unknown facility. At that time, China quarantined anyone within three rows of a passenger with an elevated temperature. I was relieved to make it through Immigration and begin my tour. However, by the time I arrived in Shanghai, the Swine Flu had caught up with me. I sat in my room in a top hotel shivering. My chills were so bad that I went to bed wearing a full-length shearling coat! When I flew home to the US, there was no quarantine or special safeguard to address the spread of Swine Flu.
While the COVID-19 battle has not yet been won, new vaccines are starting to show real promise. Following a year of lockdowns and pent-up demand, a travel surge is predicted at home and abroad. As of today, ten plus percent of the US has been vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control has not yet advised that vaccinated persons engage in non-essential travel. However, with the increase of vaccinations around the world, both consumers and foreign tourist boards are looking for ways to travel once again.
Restarting travel in 2021 largely depends upon global COVID-19 vaccination delivery. In any case, masks and frequent hand-washing are still important.
By May 31, 2021, the goal is to deliver enough vaccines for all adults to be vaccinated. While there have been delays in getting vaccines or deploying them, delivery is improving. For a detailed update, see MSN’s United States COVID-19 State-By-State Travel Restrictions.
Borders between the United States and Canada have been largely closed for the past year to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Canada has set a Sept. 30, 2021 goal to vaccinate all adults.
Current COVID-19 Global Travel Restrictions:
Until vaccinations and/or “herd immunity” reach a comfortable level, such as seventy percent, little relief is in sight. Both domestic United States travel and worldwide cross-border tourism are subject to a range of sometimes conflicting regulations:
-Quarantines up to fourteen days either in a hotel or as in Thailand in a state-authorized facility. (A proposal for a lesser quarantine has been offered.) A prior quarantine in a “safe corridor country” can also be useful.
-A negative COVID-19 test up to 72 hours before arrival. (This is unlikely to be covered by a general insurance policy. Costs can easily double if you must pay at your vacation’s destination and before being readmitted at home.
We have found a wide difference in countries’ response to COVID-19 as seen in this sampling below:
- This is required for entry to the United States for both US citizens and foreign visitors from aged two and up. US embassies have reported in some locales that there has not been access to a lab for timely testing. Before you leave home, check to find out what is available and the hours of operation.
- Countries, such as Brazil, have closed land and sea entry points for tourists. However, air travel is accepted with restrictions.
- Cambodia, one of my favorite countries, has some of the toughest restrictions: (i) a $2,000 deposit for testing and potential treatment, (ii) a negative test, (iii) 14-day quarantine at an approved hotel and a (iv) local health insurance policy.
- Laos and Vietnam-Closed.
- Chile has reopened to US citizens with (i) negative test results and (iii) proof of $30,000 health insurance coverage.
- Costa Rica has fewer requirements. A test is not required, but proof of medical insurance is.
- Maldives-These exotic islands likely benefit from the remote location. Testing is required but no quarantine!
- Turkey requires a test but no quarantine.
- France is only allowing EU visitors. This currently includes such top vacation spots as St. Bart’s. For other French territories, be sure to check whether they are exempted from border closing.
- UK travel may be possible but has been discouraged because of the current variant.
-Exceptions have been carved out. Travel “bubbles” provide a way for countries to admit travelers from select countries under less stringent circumstances. For example, Greece and Cyprus are offering such unrestricted entry to Israeli travelers who have been vaccinated.
-The broadest approach now in 2021 has focused on “vaccine passports”, especially within the European Union (“EU”). However, Australia’s national airline, Qantas, has argued in favor of vaccine certificates for some time. Digital certifications have raised privacy concerns. (In pre-Internet days, long-time international travelers carried the World Health Organization’s “Yellow Card”, if needed, to certify Yellow Fever or other vaccinations.)
For a global view, see Kayak’s Update of Country-by-Country Restrictions. For other specific updates by destination, take a look at the Tourism Market Research Blog | Destination Analysts.
Travel 2022: Looking Ahead:
Both citizens of the United States and many other countries do not need a visa for the EU. However, a change is coming in 2022. To receive such a “visa waiver” as to twenty-two EU and four non-EU countries, U.S. citizens will be among those that need to apply for ETIAS.
Practical Considerations for 2021 Travel:
-Do you have adequate travel insurance to cover COVID-19 trip disruptions?
-In case you become sick abroad, do you have access to an emergency cash fund if needed?
-What testing requirements are ongoing? What is the cost?
-Are quarantines in place? Will you be required to pay for extra lodging and flight changes?
-Is safe, public transportation available?
-What main sights and events will not be open during your trip?
-In the US, states/cities and in the EU, individual countries can issue conflicting COVID-19 restrictions.
-As in Canada, arrival or departure by air may have different standards.