Countries around the world are starting to open their borders for travelers—some even allowing those flying in from the Philippines—with some not even requiring a negative PCR test.
It’s almost been a year in a half since the COVID pandemic started severely impacting the Philippines and the rest of the world. Although you’re probably missing your sojourns abroad, the best way to stem transmission is to still stay home.
Although leisure travel is not advisable until most of the world’s population is vaccinated, there are countries that are opening to tourists due to their speedy vaccine rollouts, strict quarantine guidelines, and rapid drop in COVID infection rates and deaths.
In contrast, there are some destinations that permit entry for people from high-risk countries with minimal requirements. Shockingly, these countries don’t require a negative PCR COVID test result or quarantine. Some places are seeing a spike in their COVID rate because of this.
Here are countries that are currently accepting tourists, their COVID travel requirements, and some of the risks that are included when making an overseas trip.
Countries of The European Union
EU countries such as Germany, France, Netherlands, Italy, and Spain are opening to tourists this month. In May, Europe saw a significant decline in COVID deaths and infections. The drop in infection rates is due to the 36.2 percent of the European population getting at least their first vaccine dose last April. For comparison, the Philippines has vaccinated 1.1 percent of its people.
Together with their steady vaccine rollout plans, the EU is starting to distribute digital COVID certificates. This document will specify if the holder is vaccinated, received a negative COVID test result, or is someone who’s recovered from being infected. The certificate will help EU citizens travel freely and ensure that EU officials can lift restrictions in a coordinated manner.
As part of the EU, Greece opened its borders to tourists last month. The government has released a list of countries that don’t need to quarantine when arriving, such as the rest of the EU, New Zealand, Australia, Israel, the UAE, Thailand, and South Korea. Non-EU citizens are recommended to travel on direct flights.
Although encouraged, travelers don’t need to be fully vaccinated, but it will “greatly facilitate the procedures upon arrival.” As of last month, 4,600,000 jabs have been distributed across Greece, and at least 1.7 million of its people have been fully vaccinated.
Travelers from high-risk countries are currently banned from arriving in Iceland. High-risk countries include the Philippines, Brazil, Bolivia, China, and India. In addition, travelers from the permitted low-risk countries may only enter if they have proof of being fully vaccinated.
Travel from Iceland to other Schengen area zones would not be granted to non-Schengen residents. As reported by The New York Times, unvaccinated people from low-risk countries are required to provide a negative COVID test result, and quarantine is mandatory for up to five days.
Switzerland has been leading across Schengen areas in administering second doses of the vaccine. As a result, its COVID infection rates are lowering, and the country is preparing for summer openings. The country is slowly started re-opening establishments this month and plans to fully lift quarantine restrictions by mid-August.
Similar to Iceland, the country will abolish travel restrictions to fully-vaccinated tourists for the next six months, but they won’t be accommodating entry to travelers coming from high-risk countries. Same as many EU countries, Switzerland will only recognize Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZenica, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, the manufacturers authorised by the European Medicines Agency.
Since May, UK citizens have been allowed to travel to its “green list” countries for non-essential reasons. The 12 countries listed include New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Brunei, and Israel. UK’s people may travel to any of these countries, but a negative PCR test is still required before and after their trips. Quarantine is not a requirement.
There is a wider “amber list” of countries that UK citizens may travel to; however, it requires a negative COVID test and self-isolation for 10 days. Some of the amber-listed countries include Spain, France, and Italy, which are three of the main summer vacation spots of the British. Despite the aviation industry’s lobby to allow the US on the green list, their request has been denied.
“This is not a list generated to think about where people want to lie on beaches. That would be completely wrong,” says UK transport minister Grant Schapps when asked why the most popular vacation spots are not one of the countries that don’t require self-isolation.
It’s one of the few countries people coming from the Philippines can travel to with minimal restrictions. Although, if travelers don’t need to quarantine or even present a negative PCR result, it makes for an extremely risky trip. Since January, Mexico’s liberal admission of visitors has attracted tourists worldwide. As a result, the country’s COVID cases spiked in the same month, garnering over 22,000 cases on January 21 alone.
Last year, 25 million tourists visited Mexico. Paul Safarti, the founder of a Mexico-based tour operator, said, “They’re partying there like there’s no COVID.” Last November, Tulum hosted thousands of people for Art WIth Me, a cultural festival.
Like Mexico, Filipino travelers visiting Costa Rica need not present negative PCR test results or self-isolate. However, tourists must acquire mandatory travel insurance, which covers lodging and medical expenses in the event they contract COVID in the North American country. The expenses include $50,000 for medical insurance and $2,000 for lodging when quarantine is required due to infection.
Since May 13, the archipelago has had its border shut to South Asian countries. The restriction was triggered when visitors from South Asia spiked the country’s COVID rates from 100 a day to over 1,500.
However, Maldives is currently open to travelers from all other destinations, as long as they provide a negative PCR test. Tourists consider the contentment of staying within their luxury resorts during their entire stay the high point of being in the Maldives during the pandemic.
As of late February, over 140 resorts and 330 guesthouses and Airbnbs have been open and serving international guests.
The Maldives plans to incentivize the possibility of receiving jabs when you visit. CNBC International reports that the initiative called “visit, vaccinate, vacation” will begin once every Maldivian is fully vaccinated. Once accomplished, Abdulla Mausoom, Maldives’ minister of tourism, plans to offer vaccine doses to tourists upon arrival.
Banner photo from ANH International’s Instagram page.