Anguilla, a tiny British overseas territory in the Eastern Caribbean Sea, prepares to ease travel restrictions linked to the pandemic, following the lead of dozens of countries that have dropped test and vaccination requirements, eager to rebuild tourism and their economies.
This month, the British Virgin Islands, Belize and Australia also relaxed their requirements for visitors. And most countries around the world are now open to visitors from the United States, which lifted testing requirements for inbound travelers in June.
Some countries that closed their borders to tourists at the start of the pandemic have completely eliminated the requirements for travelers, including the UK, Iceland and Sweden.
The change comes even as the Omicron sub-variant known as BA.5 has led to an increase in cases in the United States, Western Europe, Japan, Australia, and other countries. However, this has mostly occurred without any commensurate increase in deaths, which experts link to more widely available Covid-19 vaccines and treatments, as well as at least some immunity conferred by previous infections.
Erika Richter, vice president of communications at the American Society of Travel Advisors, a business group, said travel continues to increase as more countries have lifted the restrictions. In the United States, travel is approaching prepandemic levels, according to Transportation Security Administration checkpoint metrics.
Read more about the Coronavirus pandemic
“We have seen since the beginning of the pandemic that travelers who wanted to travel would pass through the circles; they would do what was necessary to travel and to make that journey, ”Ms. Richter said. “As more and more countries lift their restrictions, more people who may have been on the fence and may not have been in that ‘I’ll do whatever it takes’ category are now in the ‘Let’s go’ category.”
Travel restrictions proliferated at the start of the pandemic as nations tried to keep the coronavirus and its variants at bay. But many ultimately fell short of the virus’s ability to spread and mutate.
“Travel restrictions make sense when there is a large difference between prevalence and risk when switching between points A and B,” William Hanage, an epidemiologist at Harvard TH Chan School of Public told The New York Times last month. Health, when the United States dropped its testing requirements for incoming air travelers. “If there’s not a big difference, then they’re not particularly valuable,” he said.
With the summer season underway, more and more countries are lifting restrictions.
Anguilla’s Ministry of Health said in a statement last week that as of August 8, the Caribbean island will no longer require vaccinated travelers to provide a negative test for the coronavirus before travel. Unvaccinated travelers, who were previously not allowed into the country, will be able to visit on August 8 if they provide a negative coronavirus test prior to departure.
Last week, the British Virgin Islands dropped all of its testing requirements and said arriving travelers would no longer be screened for coronavirus. Previously, all visitors over the age of 5, regardless of their vaccination status, were required to submit a negative coronavirus test within 48 hours of arrival.
Belize also last week dropped the requirement for visitors to provide a negative test for coronavirus or a vaccination test. Foreign tourists are no longer required to show proof that they have purchased travel insurance for Belize.
Earlier this month, Australia, which had been completely closed to foreign tourists in the early years of the pandemic, abandoned its visitor vaccination requirements, having already abandoned its testing rule. States or territories in Australia may have their own requirements for testing and quarantine, and face masks are still required on inbound and intra-country flights.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides a four-tier ranking for coronavirus risk in other countries, with the highest “Tier 4” ranking for countries that have “special circumstances”, including the threat of collapse from extremely high health infrastructure counts the case. The CDC list currently has no such designated countries.