- The COVID-19 travel restrictions in countries outside the United States vary greatly.
- Some nations allow U.S. travelers who have been vaccinated to visit with few restrictions.
- Other countries have strict guidelines, and some don’t allow travelers from the United States.
In the United States, it sometimes feels like the COVID-19 pandemic is winding down as vaccination rates increase, lockdowns and mask mandates lift, and case rates drop in many areas of the country.
But COVID-19 is still raging in many parts of the world, where large numbers of people remain unvaccinated and new, more transmissible coronavirus variants threaten to upend any progress the global community has made in getting the pandemic under control.
Nonetheless, about 7 in 10 people in the United States say they plan to travel in 2021, but many countries have been sluggish to open their doors to even vaccinated Americans.
Meanwhile, Canada’s border — the largest land border between any two countries in the world — remains closed to U.S. citizens regardless of their vaccination status, a move that has dismayed prominent U.S. officials such as Sen. Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York.
Canada recently extended its border closure until at least July 21, although it is lifting quarantine restrictions for fully vaccinated Canadians seeking to reenter the country as of July 5.
Other countries, such as Bali, have delayed their plans to reopen their borders to foreign tourists due to a recent surge in COVID-19 cases.
“Lifting travel restrictions is made complicated by the fact that globally, countries have varying degrees of immunization and varying epidemics. Summer travel will further cast a spotlight on the growing global inequities when it comes to access to COVID-19 vaccines,” Dr. Thomas Kenyon, MPH, chief health officer of international healthcare organization Project HOPE and the former director of Global Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told Healthline.
“If the lifting of travel restrictions to Europe is not handled carefully, for example, unvaccinated travelers will become the trans-Atlantic vector for the continued global spread of COVID-19 and variants,” Kenyon said.
How (and where) to travel
If you want to make travel plans to leave the United States, the first and simplest thing you can do is get vaccinated.
Requirements differ by country, but many nations are beginning to make exceptions to testing, quarantining, and other measures to fully vaccinated Americans.
“Every country has different travel requirements, so it’s critical that you look up that country’s specific requirements,” said Magdeline Aagard, PhD, the residency coordinator for Walden University’s College of Health Professions in Minnesota.
Some countries that are open to vaccinated Americans without the need for quarantining include the Bahamas, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Barts, Belize, Turks and Caicos, Tunisia, Denmark, Ecuador, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, France, French Polynesia, Greece, Iceland, Guatemala, and Honduras.
Some may also require testing for vaccinated travelers.
As for where is most difficult to travel, the CDC maintains a world map of where it says Americans should avoid traveling entirely. That list currently includes much of South America, Africa, and Asia.
“There are a lot of countries that the CDC recommends Americans do not travel to because of the very high incidence of COVID-19 cases, including India, Brazil, Sweden, and the Netherlands,” Aagard told Healthline.
“If you are thinking of traveling to any locations on the list of countries where the number of COVID-19 cases are very high, the CDC recommends avoiding travel. If you do decide to travel, be sure you are fully vaccinated before you leave,” Aagard said.
On the flip side, even countries that the CDC has deemed reasonably safe to travel to, such as China, aren’t opening their borders anytime soon.
“Anything in Asia is off-limits to the rest of the world. I don’t expect Taiwan, China, and other Asian countries like Vietnam to open up for a long time, even after they start vaccinating their people — and that’s because they’ve been through SARS and other outbreaks and take extra precautions,” said Brady Simpson, CEO of Peanut, a technology company that’s created a free Chrome extension that shows up-to-date travel rules for every destination while browsing for flights and hotels on Expedia, Booking.com, or Google Flights.
“Asian countries were some of the first to lock down their countries and enact strict measures to try and control the virus, and I expect them to be one of the last to open their borders,” Simpson told Healthline.
Because travel situations are always changing, especially with concerns about a resurgence in COVID-19 driven by the highly transmissible delta variant, travelers should always check the embassy website or use apps such as Peanut to find the most up-to-date information regarding border closure, testing, and quarantine requirements.
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