Even as 2020 draws to a close, many countries are yet to recover from the coronavirus pandemic and continue to keep their borders closed for international visitors. However, encouraging news about vaccine development has given these countries and airlines hope to revive suspended flight routes and tourism sector in the near future.
Many countries have also opted for “air bubble” arrangements among each other. Currently, India has air bubble arrangements with 22 countries, including the US, the UK, Germany, France, the UAE, Maldives, Canada, Japan, Bahrain, Afghanistan, among others. As per the arrangement with the United States, Air India has added thrice-a-week flights between Delhi and Newark. The airline is also operating flights between London and Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Kochi and Goa.
At the same time, some countries have put a condition before travelers that they must be vaccinated against the coronavirus before they can fly.
A look at travel restrictions in various countries
According to a Reuters report, while Australia’s second-largest city Melbourne welcomed its first international passenger flight in five months on Monday, the country extended its restrictions on overseas travel until March, lengthening the emergency period by three months.
On Tuesday, Australia’s Minister of Health Greg Hunt announced the extension of the human biosecurity emergency period, limiting cruise ships’ movement and outbound international travel, The Australian reported.
Australia has since March closed its borders to non-citizens, but airports serving Melbourne, Victoria’s capital, stopped accepting any arrivals in late June after an outbreak of Covid-19 that begun at two hotels where arrivals were quarantining. In October, Australia and New Zealand entered a “travel bubble” agreement, allowing anyone who has been in New Zealand for 14 days and traveling to Australia a quarantine-free entry.
The US, which is worst-affected by the virus, is yet to lift complete restrictions on international travel (except for emergency measures) though it has entered into air bubble agreements with some countries. The border between the United States and Canada remains closed at least till December 21. US nationals traveling to the Caribbean countries would need to stay at pre-approved accommodations and have to agree to restricted movement. Some European and South American countries, including Switzerland, Ukraine, Chile and Bolivia, have allowed entry to American travelers given that they are Covid free or willing to serve mandatory self-quarantine period.
The UK has released a travel corridor list comprising of countries relatively safe from the virus. Travelers from these countries would be exempted from following the 14-day self-isolation. The list can be checked here.
In November, Saudi Arabia’s national carrier Saudia Airlines resumed travel to 33 international destinations after months of travel suspension. Travelers from cities such as Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London, Madrid, Paris, Washington, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Dubai, Delhi, Dhaka, Guangzhou, Islamabad, and Mumbai among others can visit the Kingdom now.
In Japan, while the state of emergency has been lifted, the country still holds travel restrictions on nearly 111 countries, including the US. People traveling to Japan are required to submit a PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure. On their arrival, they would face a Covid-19 testing and would further have to adhere to restricted travel.
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