Anguilla, a small British Overseas Territory in the eastern Caribbean Sea, is preparing to ease pandemic-related travel restrictions, following dozens of countries that have dropped testing and vaccination requirements, eager to restart tourism and their economies to build.
This month, the British Virgin Islands, Belize and Australia also relaxed visitor requirements. And most countries of the world are now open to visitors from the United States, who are in June- lifted its test requirement for inbound travelers.
Some countries that closed their borders to tourists at the start of the pandemic have completely abolished the requirements for travelers, including the United Kingdom, Iceland and Sweden.
The shift comes even if the Omicron subvariant known as BA.5 has led to an increase in the number of cases in the United States, Western Europe, Japan, Australia and other countries. However, that has mostly happened without a commensurate increase in deaths, which experts link to more widely available vaccines and Covid-19 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 trade group, said travel continued to increase as more countries imposed restrictions. In the United States, travel is approaching prepandemic levels, according to the Transportation Security Administration’s checkpoint statistics.
“We have seen since the start of the pandemic that travelers who wanted to travel would go through the hoops; they would do whatever it took to travel and make that journey,” said Ms. Richter. “As more countries lift their restrictions, more people who may have been on the fence and may not be in that ‘I’ll do whatever it takes’ category now fall into the ‘Let’s go’ category.”
Travel restrictions increased at the start of the pandemic, as countries tried to keep the coronavirus and its variants at bay. But many were ultimately no match for the virus’ ability to spread and mutate.
“Travel restrictions make sense if there’s a big difference between prevalence and risk when you go between points A and B,” William Hanage, an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, told The New York Times last month, when the United States dropped its inbound air passenger testing requirement. “If there’s not a big difference, then they’re not particularly valuable,” he said.
With the summer travel season approaching, even more countries are dropping restrictions.
Anguilla’s health ministry said in a statement last week that from August 8, the Caribbean island would no longer require vaccinated travelers to take a negative coronavirus test before traveling. Unvaccinated travelers, who were previously banned from entering the country, will be allowed to visit the country from August 8 if they present a negative coronavirus test before departure.
Last weekthe British Virgin Islands have dropped all testing requirements and said arriving travelers will no longer be screened for the coronavirus. earlierall visitors over the age of 5, regardless of their vaccination status, were required to present a negative coronavirus test within 48 hours of arrival.
Belize last week also dropped the requirement that visitors present a negative coronavirus test or proof of vaccination. Foreign tourists no longer have to show proof that they have taken out travel insurance in Belize.
earlier this monthAustralia, which was completely closed to foreign tourists in the early years of the pandemic, dropped vaccination requirements for visitors, having already dropped the testing rule. States or territories in Australia may have their own testing and quarantine requirements, and face masks are still required on flights to and within the country.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers: a four-level ranking for coronavirus risk in other countries, with the highest ranking of ‘level 4’ for countries with ‘special circumstances’, including the threat of health infrastructure collapse and extremely high cases. There are currently no countries so designated on the CDC’s list.