Whether you’re a vaccine queen, a PCR prince or a quarantine king, there sure are a lot of requirements when it comes to getting around these days. Luckily CNN Travel is here to keep you updated on the latest developments. Here’s what we learned in pandemic travel this week.
1. The US is opening its air borders
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By far the biggest travel news this week is that, after an 18-month ban, the US will finally be reopening its borders to vaccinated foreign nationals in November.
To gain entry, all foreign nationals will have to show proof of vaccination and a negative test taken within three days prior to the trip, as well as comply with enhanced contract tracing measures.
It’s not yet confirmed which vaccines will be accepted, how the US will assess and verify vaccination status, or what date the borders will open. CNN contributor Blane Bachelor has the lowdown on what we know so far.
2. But its land borders remain closed
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Canada reopened its land borders to the United States more than a month ago, but it’s still waiting for the welcome to be returned.
White House Covid-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients announced Monday that nonessential travel restrictions at land crossings with Canada and Mexico will be extended through October 21.
The ongoing land border restrictions have come under heavy scrutiny by lobbyists, lawmakers and border mayors. CNN’s Priscilla Alvarez and Jason Hoffman have more.
3. Three new destinations have been been added to the US ‘do not travel’ list
Three more destinations — Bermuda, Guyana, and Antigua and Barbuda — have been added to the “very high” risk category of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s regularly updated list of travel advisories.
Nearly 90 destinations are now placed in the highest risk category, including tourist favorites such as France, Greece and Thailand. Destinations that fall into the “Covid-19 Very High” Level 4 category have had more than 500 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days, according to CDC criteria.
In response to its Covid surge, Antigua and Barbuda is also updating its travel protocols. From October 1, all all arriving passengers will be required to have received at least one dose of a World Health Organization-approved vaccine.
4. Australia is on track to reopen ‘by Christmas’
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Australia’s Tourism Minister Dan Tehan said on September 22 that the country is on course to allow borders to reopen before the end of the year — “by Christmas at the latest.”
The government has set a number of goals that need to be achieved first, one of which is passing the 80% national vaccination rate. As of September 22, about 38% of Australians had received both doses of a coronavirus vaccine.
When borders reopen, international visitors to Australia will also need to verify that they are fully vaccinated to be allowed entry.
5. Auckland police say they caught two would-be KFC smugglers
No one knows quite what’s included in Colonel Sanders’ secret blend of 11 herbs and spices, but it’s probably not $70,000 in cash and some empty ounce bags.
Two alleged gang associates were arrested on September 19 as they tried to enter Auckland with a car trunk “full of KFC,” plus those dollars and paraphernalia, according to police. Restaurants, including takeout services, remain closed in New Zealand’s largest city.
The two men, aged 23 and 30, will appear in court for breaching New Zealand’s strict coronavirus lockdown rules, and the police adds that “further charges are likely.”
6. Abu Dhabi has dropped its Covid-19 test requirement for domestic entry
Courtesy Department of Culture and Tourism — Abu Dhabi
From September 19, citizens, residents and tourists traveling to Abu Dhabi from other emirates in the UAE are no longer required to present a negative Covid-19 test result to gain entry.
The decision follows a drop in the emirate’s Covid infection rate and the introduction of a green pass system to enter some public places, says the Abu Dhabi Media Office.
7. Southeast Asia might be opening too soon, experts warn
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Countries including Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam are dropping their “zero-Covid” policies and looking to revive their tourism industries by reopening borders and public spaces.
However, experts worry that low vaccination rates in much of Southeast Asia, and the widespread use of lower-efficacy vaccines such as China’s Sinovac, could lead to disaster. CNN’s Jessie Yeung and Ben Westcott report.
8. The Vatican will require a Green Pass for entry from October 1
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It may be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God, but Reuters reports that if you want to enter the Vatican after October 1 you’ll need a Green Pass health certificate showing proof of vaccination, a negative test or recovery from Covid-19.
It follows the announcement by the Italian government last week that from October 15 the Green Pass will be mandatory for all workers, in both public and private sectors.
9. A Texas couple were asked to leave a restaurant for wearing face masks
Texas couple Natalie Wester and Jose Lopez-Guerrero were on a night out in Rowlett, about 20 miles northeast of Dallas, on September 10 when they were kicked out of a restaurant for refusing to take off their face masks.
The couple say that they’d been unaware of the policy when they entered the eatery and that they routinely wear masks when out and about because they have an immunocompromised four-month-old son.
“I spent my money on this business, I put my blood, sweat and tears in this business and I don’t want any masks in here,” Hang Time Sports Grill & Bar’s owner, identified only as Tom, told CNN affiliate KTVT on camera.
10. A Caribbean island is about to get a lot cheaper to enter
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The tiny British overseas territory of Montserrat, home to fewer than 5,000 people, has had a novel approach to keeping its tourism intake reassuringly elite during the pandemic.
When it reopened to international remote workers earlier this year, having been closed since March 2020, the entry restrictions were rigorous: You had to have a minimum annual income of $70,000 to be even considered. Just 21 travelers have made the cut so far, according to the New York Times this week.
But there’s good news for the shallower of pocket: The teensy volcanic island will reopen to vaccinated visitors from October 1. No minimum salary is required, but you will need to do a five-day quarantine and take a PCR test on Day 4.
11. Scandinavia just got more attractive
Not long after Denmark lifted most restrictions on daily life, Norway this week announced a similar move, albeit with a cautious eye on the Covid horizon. Meanwhile, Sweden is lifting travel restrictions to all countries from October 1, meaning its citizens now have a smorgasbord of options when it comes to booking an escape.
Travel into Sweden is still subject to restrictions though. Most travelers will need to show proof of a negative test and most non-EU countries are still banned.