The discovery of yet another new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, late last month has prompted tightened travel restrictions and requirements from countries around the world. Many places have banned travel from several countries in southern Africa where the variant was first reported or are requiring those individuals to quarantine upon arrival. However, here’s a look at some of the notable updates from some of the most popular international destinations.
Under Chile’s “Protected Borders Plan,” non-resident international travelers who have been in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini and Mozambique in the past 14 days are banned from entry. Planned land border reopenings at Chacalluta, Pino Hachado and Colchane have also been postponed. Currently, the country is requiring international travelers to be fully vaccinated and tested for COVID-19 with a PCR test. They must also complete a traveler’s affidavit and obtain a medical insurance plan covering COVID-19 with a minimum of $30,000 in coverage.
Effective December 1, all travelers over the age of 16 visiting Ecuador require proof of full COVID-19 vaccination in addition to a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of their arrival. Children under the age of 16 don’t have to be vaccinated but will still need a negative PCR test administered within 72 hours of arrival.
France is also tightening its travel restrictions in response to the Omicron variant. Travelers from outside the European Union will need to provide a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 48 hours of travel, regardless of vaccination status.
Last week, Jamaica announced that it was well-prepared to meet the new one-day testing requirement for travel into the U.S. The country has multiple lab facilities available at its Montego Bay and Kingston airports in addition to convenient on-site testing options at hotels and resorts throughout the island. What’s more, Jamaica offers pre-booking for return tests to ensure results are received in time to meet the latest departure requirements.
All international travelers to Rwanda, regardless of vaccination status, must quarantine at a designated hotel after testing upon arrival. What’s more, all travelers must have received a negative COVID-19 PCR test result performed within 72 hours prior to departure. Rapid tests will not be accepted.
Thailand, which reopened for quarantine-free travel to fully vaccinated visitors on November 1, has banned travelers from eight African countries designated as high-risk for the Omicron variant at the start of December. The impacted nations include Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
The United Kingdom is now requiring visitors to quarantine and test for COVID-19 on their second day in the country regardless of their vaccination status. Plus, starting December 7, all international travelers aged 12 and over, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status, will need proof of a negative pre-departure PCR or lateral flow test taken no more than 48 hours prior to their departure.
The U.S. was among the many countries to restrict travel from southern Africa late last month but didn’t stop there. As of December 6, all travelers, regardless of citizenship or vaccination status, will need to provide a negative COVID-19 test taken within one day of departure. The CDC has also expanded surveillance efforts at four international airports in the U.S. in an effort to minimize the spread of Omicron.