We’ve all had one more pretty massive reason to be cheerful over the past few months. In countries all over the world, including the UK and US, vaccines are finally being rolled out to the elderly, key workers and those with underlying health conditions. That means a return to semi-normality may well be within reach sometime vaguely soon.
Now, as more and more of the global population gets the jab, all those of us who’ve been stuck indoors for months on end may well be tempted to get out and explore the world again. Although many governments are still advising (or completely banning) their citizens from travelling overseas, an ever-increasing list of tourism-dependent destinations sees in the vaccine rollout an opportunity to reopen borders and ease other travel restrictions over the coming months.
At the most extreme end, several countries have already announced that they will allow proof of vaccination as an alternative to existing testing and quarantine requirements.
The latest country to offer an exemption from quarantine for vaccinated travellers is Poland, which has announced that anyone who’s been vaccinated against Covid-19 will now be exempt from a mandatory quarantine on arrival. For the moment, this only applies to countries it is currently allowing limited travel from (this includes all EU nations and around a dozen other countries).
Travellers from anywhere in the world may also now enter the Baltic state of Estonia without having to self-isolate for ten days on arrival – so long as they have either received one of the jabs, or have recovered from Covid-19, sometime within the past six months.
At opposite ends of Europe, Iceland and Romania are waiving strict testing and quarantine requirements if travellers can show a vaccination certificate. In both cases, travellers who can provide proof that they have had Covid-19 – and have since recovered – may also enter.
From March 1, the Mediterranean island of Cyprus is set to allow in all vaccinated travellers in an effort to revive its flagging tourism industry. The British and Greek governments are also working on a vaccination certification scheme that could allow Brits to visit Greece as early as May, The Times reported earlier this month.
Last month the Seychelles, an archipelago off the east coast of Africa, announced it would admit anyone, from any country, who can prove they have had the final dose of any vaccine at least two weeks before arrival.
Several other countries are considering the move, but have not yet made it official. Thailand’s tourism minister has suggested that his country’s borders will reopen to all tourists who’ve had the jab from July, and Singapore has also said it is considering relaxing travel restrictions for those who’ve had the vaccine. However, it will only do this once the vaccines have been proved to significantly curb the spread of the virus.
In the absence of a widely accepted ‘vaccine passport’, plenty is still unclear – including which of the vaccines are acceptable, and what exactly constitutes proof of vaccination, in most of these countries. So when you do finally get your shot, make sure to hang on to every piece of paper you receive. Later this year, it could be the difference between hitting the beach and not even making it past border control.
High hopes for this year? Here are some very cool things for travellers to look forward to in 2021.
And in case you weren’t already pining for a trip, these prizewinning photos will make you really, really want to travel again.