Traveling abroad becomes less complicated for vaccinated travelers.
A growing list of countries is reducing or eliminating quarantine and Covid-19 testing requirements for those who have been fully vaccinated while maintaining restrictions for those who have not.
Where vaccines ease travel restrictions
Barbados announced this week that quarantine requirements for vaccinated travelers will be reduced to zero to two days during which they can move around their hotels. However, unvaccinated visitors must stay in their hotel rooms until they pass a Covid test on the fifth day and wait a few more days for the results.
The new protocols begin on May 8th.
Children cannot be vaccinated just yet, complicating travel plans for families this year, but Barbados is not leaving them out. Children under 18 traveling with vaccinated parents are subject to the same rules as vaccinated travelers, according to the Barbados tourism marketing website.
Mixed groups of vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers are not that lucky. Vaccinated adults traveling with unvaccinated adult companions who “choose not to be separated” are subject to the stricter requirements placed on the unvaccinated.
Barbados’ loose policy towards vaccinated travelers begins May 8th.
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With its new forked restrictions, Barbados, along with Estonia, Guatemala and Slovenia, creates different entry requirements for vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers. Most require vaccinations to be completed within two weeks of arrival, and some only accept vaccines made in the US or Europe.
Here’s how several countries are approaching the gap:
· · Croatia: Vaccinated travelers are only required to present vaccine certificates to participate, but unvaccinated travelers must test negative for Covid-19 (or proof of recovery) and may need to self-isolate while waiting for test results.
· · Iceland: Allows vaccinated (and previously infected) travelers, regardless of their origin, to enter if they test negative on arrival. Many unvaccinated European travelers – plus residents of Australia, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, and Thailand – can participate by testing negative twice and quarantining for five to six days. All other unvaccinated travelers, including Americans and Canadians, are prohibited from entering.
· · Belize: Vaccinated travelers do not require testing, but unvaccinated travelers (including children 5 years and older) must test negative before or after landing. Anyone who tests positive must quarantine for at least 14 days at the traveler’s expense.
· · Georgia: Vaccinated travelers from any country can enter by air, while non-vaccinated travelers are from certain countries and must test negative before and after arrival.
Will more places apply vaccine-based guidelines?
Yes saidGloria Guevara, President of the London-based World Travel & Tourism Council.
“As the vaccine rollout continues to gain momentum, no doubt more countries will follow suit,” she said.
The U.S. state of Hawaii is currently working to allow vaccinated visitors to bypass testing and quarantine requirements, according to local media. Lt. Governor Josh Green said children still need to test negative to participate, but children of vaccinated parents may be exempt from testing if Hawaii reaches herd immunity, as reported by the Honolulu Star Advertiser.
Phuket, Thailand and Greece have indicated that less restrictive vaccine protocols are in the works.
Such guidelines “make perfect sense,” said Harry Nelson, founder of the Los Angeles-based law firm Nelson Hardiman.
“I expect that at some point this will be the rule in the vast majority of countries and that some countries will switch to mandatory vaccination at some point in the future,” he said.
Are these guidelines fair?
No, said Nelson, “but the complaints about fairness are ridiculous in my opinion.”
He quotedLongstanding precedents for countries requiring proof of vaccination for entry of visitors, especially those with a low fever. He said the ongoing threat from Covid-19 variants “makes it perfectly reasonable for countries to impose vaccination requirements”.
“Fair is a concept that is irrelevant to fighting a highly infectious virus that is spread around the world,” he said.
Regarding Hawaii’s vaccination plans, Lt. Gov. Green told local Honolulu TV station KHON: “We don’t discriminate against anyone. If you are against a vaccination and want to travel, you can just get it.” [a] Test, no big deal. ”
“Every country has the right to determine its public health policy as it sees fit,” said health lawyer Harry Nelson.
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Guevara said while the World Travel & Tourism Council opposes compulsory vaccines for travel, the organization supports the introduction of a short-term health passport such as the European Commission’s Digital Green Certificate to enable safe international travel.
“We shouldn’t discriminate against those who want to travel but haven’t been vaccinated,” she said. “We know that vaccinating the world’s population, especially in less advanced countries or in different age groups, will take a long time.”
Travel security company International SOS is working with the International Chamber of Commerce to set standards for the AOK digital passport, said Dr. Robert Quigley, global medical director at International SOS.
He said digital vaccination record apps are “not designed to be discriminatory, but rather the other way around, to help the travel industry get back on track and to ensure the health and safety of citizens and travelers.”
Nelson said “politics” around arguments about fairness and denial of vaccination certificates are an obstacle.
“We have to recognize and deal with the practical reality with which we live in these times,” he said.