The arrival of Omicron in November 2021 and its rapid spread across the world led thousands of holiday travel plans to be cancelled. As countries and governments reinstated international travel restrictions to curb the spread of Omicron, many international travellers around the world as well as in India were once again faced with bleak prospects. However, countries have now started easing travel restrictions once again for international visitors. The latest on the list is the United Kingdom which recently allowed entry of fully vaccinated travellers without an RT-PCR test. The UK isn't the only country. Several countries including France have shown interest in easing Covid-19 travel restrictions to overcome losses faced especially by the tourism and aviation industry in two years of the pandemic. Another reason for a shift in easing travel restrictions seems to be the growing consensus over the diminished impact of Omicron variant, which nevertheless remains on WHO's 'Variant of Concern' list.
In India, cautious authorities gave an extended ban on scheduled international flights till February 28. But Indian travellers hoping to hop out of the country for work or travel can breathe a sigh of relief with countries looking to open up borders and easing travel restrictions, especially for the fully vaccinated.
Here are some other nations that are allowing entry to vaccinated as well as unvaccinated Indians and the rules to follow in order to enter.
UK is set to scrap Covid-19 test requirements for fully vaccinated travellers entering England from next month. In an announcement made on Monday, UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that from 4 am local time on February 11 travellers who have had both doses of a Covid vaccine will no longer be required to take a test within two days of arriving in England. According to the official, the changes have been made possible by the success of UK's vaccine and booster rollout. However, UK is also allowing entry to those who have not got the jab yet. Passengers who are not vaccinated and arriving in England will only need to take a pre-departure test and a PCR test on or before day two after arriving in England. All passengers will still need to complete a Passenger Locator Form.
As of now, fully vaccinated travellers need to do a lateral flow or PCR test within two days of arriving in England after a pre-arrival test requirement was done away with earlier this week. The devolved regions of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland usually adopt similar rules on travel.
While the UK has made it easier for international travellers, the US which is still facing a high number of Covid-19 infections has only allowed vaccinated non-US passengers to enter the country. Passengers are expected to get a negative covid-test a day ahead of date of arrival. Vaccinated Indian travellers can arrive with a negative test report.
Another popular holiday destination that recently eased travel restrictions was Thailand. In wake of declining Covid-19 cases, Thailand on Thursday announced that it will start allowing entry to fully vaccinated travellers from all countries. However, unlike the UK, travellers will have to undergo a 'Trst And Go' program initiated by the Thai government. Vaccinated individuals will have to take an RT-PCR test upon arrival and then spend the night at a pre-booked hotel. Another test and hotel stay will follow within five days to ensure proper tracking. The costs of the tests and hotel stays are to be borne by the passengers themselves.
Sweden has also eased travel restrictions for international passengers. It recently announced that it does not require arriving passengers to undergo any covid-testing as the Omicron virus no longer posed a threat to the world.
Even as authorities of the city-state predict a Covid-19 wave that can lead to up to 15,000 cases a day, the government in Singapore announced easing certain travel restrictions last week. Under the new rules, vaccinated travellers who were infected but with mild symptoms could isolate for seven days instead of the previously mandated 10 days. Children are allowed to recover at home. The country has also eased testing measures by abolishing mandatory swap tests for vaccinated passengers. Passengers who have recently recovered from Covid-19 and are vaccinated do not have to undergo any testing.
Though most international tourists still have to undergo rigorous testing and isolation protocols upon entering the nation, the Vietnamese government has started to slowly ease restrictions for some foreigners and Vietnamese nationals living abroad. Under the new rules, those who hold permanent residence or visas to Vietnam can travel to the country without seeking any permission from the government. However, casual tourists will still have to seek approval on their documentation for travel purposes. As per the country's Covid rules, only vaccinated travellers can arrive in Vietnam, after having undergone a Covid-19 test or along with proof of recovering from Covid-19. Upon arrival, travellers are expected to isolate for three days and take another PCR test. The rules also mandate close watch over health and symptoms for two weeks after testing negative.
Travellers arriving at the holiday island of Cyprus currently need to show negative RT-PCR test reports or self-quarantine. The country, however, announced the lifting of all restrictions for vaccinated passengers from March 1.
Earlier in January, Israel decided. to lift travel restrictions from passengers arriving from all countries. The government noted that travel restrictions were futile in containing the spread of the virus. Vaccinated travellers from former 'Red' list countries (which were moved to Orange) have to quarantine for 24 hours after arriving in Israel or until they receive a negative Covid-19 test result. Vaccinated travellers who are not from countries on the orange or red list only require a rapid antigen test. The new travel rules apply to vaccinated and recently recovered Covid-19 patients. Unvaccinated passengers need to take two tests within a seven-day gap after arrival during which period the passengers are required to quarantine.