As some countries begin to tentatively emerge from strict lock downs, many still remain tightly closed to visitors. Here is an update on travel restrictions and lock down rules.
Several vaccines got their “green light” in many countries including China, Russia, the UK, and the US. As of February 2021, over one hundred million doses are administered worldwide. Several countries – such as Israel and the United Arab Emirates – are making swift progress immunizing their citizens. Meanwhile, many countries have either vaccinated only a small fraction of their population or are yet to start.
However, countries around the world are still in enforced lock downs of varying degrees. The WHO recommends curfews and lock downs be short-term. This in order to assess how to reorganize, re-balance resources and protect health services. Travel restrictions ensue
UK in lock down
In the UK, the English lock down began on 4 January and will last until at least mid-February. The national lock down in Wales started on December 20 and will last until at least February 22. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a lock down in Scotland hours ahead of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Europe extends national lock downs
Elsewhere in Europe, Germany has extended its nationwide lock down until March. Meanwhile governments across Europe consider prolonging or strengthening restrictions to battle highly contagious mutations of coronavirus. The tally of new infections in Germany has fallen off the record highs registered in the run-up to Christmas, when the country had roughly 30,000 cases a day.
Markus Söder, the premier of Bavaria and leader of the Christian Social Union, said: “The numbers are simply still far too high. As annoying as it is, we have to stay consistent and not give up too soon again.”
The Netherlands closed bars and restaurants in mid-October, with non-essential shops and businesses, gyms, museums, cinemas and theaters following on 15 December. After a minor Christmas relaxation, now people are urged to stay at home and may have only a maximum of two guests a day.
In Hungary, all shops are open, but the country’s borders are shut to almost all visitors, including citizens of other EU nations, and a night-time curfew is in force between 8 pm-5 am.
China puts Shijiazhuang under lock down
In China, 11 million people in the northern city of Shijiazhuang are under lock down after more than 100 new Covid cases. No one could leave the city and the schools shut down. More than 5,000 testing sites are up and running so every resident could be tested. The figures were the highest China has seen in more than five months. The country has been able to contain such outbreaks by immediately taking tough action.
South America open for travel from certain countries
South America home to some of the worst outbreaks in the world. Several countries, including Panama and Guatemala, are now banning travelers from the UK and South Africa, where new variants of the virus have been discovered. On the flip side, a new strain out of Brazil is currently making headlines.
Costa Rica is open to all travelers since November 1. Visitors don’t need a negative PCR test or quarantine upon arrival. Travelers must complete the online Health Pass form within 48 hours of departure, and to have health insurance, or travel insurance.
In Brazil, new December 30 guidelines require that anyone flying into the country must present a negative Covid test taken with 72 hours of boarding. Additionally, all travelers must complete a health form agreeing to sanitary measures for the duration of their trip. Land borders remain close for tourists without prior written authorization from the Federal Police, though Brazilian citizens, permanent residents, and family members are exempt from the travel restrictions.