Covid19

As Covid-19 cases dip, countries start welcoming tourists — with riders

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As a part of the world still reels under the Covid-19 pandemic, there is another half which is slowly opening its borders for tourists.

While Europe is opening up to Americans and other visitors after more than a year of Covid-induced restrictions, there are a few countries that even Indians can go to if one is looking for a summer get-away. However, within the European Union, different countries have put in place their own norms that travellers have to meet to travel within the bloc.

Which countries have eased Covid restrictions, and what are the entry rules?

France: People who have taken the Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines can enter France after showing proof of vaccination.

However, vaccinated visitors from outside Europe and a few “green” countries will still be asked for a negative PCR test no older than 72 hours, or a negative antigen test of no more than 48 hours. Unvaccinated children will be allowed in with vaccinated adults, but will have to show a negative test from age 11.

Tourists are banned from 16 countries that are still witnessing a surge in Covid-19 cases, including India, South Africa and Brazil.

Tourists visit the Trevi Fountain in Rome. (Photo: AP)

Italy: If you’re looking to travel to Italy, you’ll have to be on a “Covid-tested” flight or quarantine yourself for 10 days upon arrival. “Covid-tested” flights from the US started in December and have also been operating since May from Canada, Japan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

This means that passengers are tested before and after the flight and must fill out documents about their whereabouts to facilitate contact tracing if required.

Italy has also opened its borders for tourists from Britain and Israel last month, meaning they no longer need an “essential” reason to visit and don’t have to self-isolate, providing they present proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken no more than 48 hours prior to arrival. The same rules apply to travellers from EU countries and those on “Covid-tested” flights from the US, Canada, Japan and the UAE.

Greece: Tourism-reliant Greece started opening to American travellers back in April, and now visitors from China, Britain and 20 other countries are also allowed to visit for nonessential travel. However, travellers have to provide a vaccination certificate or a negative PCR test and fill in a passenger locator form on their plans in Greece.

Spain: Countries like Spain, which are heavily dependent on tourism, have relaxed restrictions in recent weeks to lure in visitors.

Americans and most other non-Europeans need an official vaccine certificate by a US health authority, in English. Spain accepts those who were inoculated with the four EU-approved vaccines as well two Chinese vaccines authorised by the World Health Organization — as long as visitors are fully vaccinated at least two weeks before the trip. Besides vaccination certificates, one can also show a certificate proving they recently recovered from Covid-19, or a negative antigen or PCR test taken within 48 hours of arrival.

However, arrivals from Brazil, South Africa and India are banned at the moment because of high infection rates there.

United Kingdom: Britain has a traffic-light system for assessing countries by risk. For countries in the green list, one has to take a coronavirus test on or before their day of arrival. For people arriving from countries in the amber list, one has to quarantine in the place one is staying and take two Covid-19 tests. For those belonging to the red list, one must quarantine in a hotel and take two Covid-19 tests.

Travellers can check which list their country belongs to here: https://www.gov.uk/uk-border-control

A woman wearing a face mask walks in Moscow. Russia has opened up for tourists, including ones from India. (Photo: AP)

Russia: This is one of the few countries that is allowing Indians to arrive with tourist visas. However, they have to get themselves tested for Covid-19, once upon arrival and then again five days after. Travellers have to remain in quarantine at their place of stay until they receive a negative test result.

Turkey: This is another country where Indians are allowed to travel to. However, one has to quarantine oneself for 14 days upon landing. Travelers will have to undergo an RT-PCR test on the 14th day and only on testing negative will they be allowed to leave the facility.

Thailand: The Southeast Asian nation has opened its borders for vaccinated tourists from July 1. There is no need for people to quarantine but visitors must stay in Phuket for seven days before travelling elsewhere.

Travellers must present a vaccine certificate as part of the requirements. Minors do not need a certificate, but those between 12 and 18 years of age must undergo rapid antigen tests.

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