COVID-19 UPDATE: Countries Take Steps to Allow More International Travel, but Barriers Remain
In the 10 weeks since we last wrote about international travel, some countries have moved to allow more fluid international travel. For example, the United Kingdom has introduced a set of quarantine exceptions and the United States clarified who is eligible for exemptions to the Presidential Proclamations limiting visa issuance and travel.
Despite these moves though, barriers to international travel are still in place for many destinations, and travelers should make sure they have the latest information before scheduling a trip or getting on a plane.
Travel to the United States
As of August 31, the US has officially closed its land borders with Canada and Mexico through September 21. In reality, however, this closure has had a minimal impact on business travel, as there are exceptions for essential travel (which includes all travel for work purposes), and air travel to the US from both countries is still allowed for business or tourism.
The US is still enforcing in-bound travel restrictions based on time spent in Brazil, China, Iran, and most countries in Europe. Passengers who have transited through or been in these countries in the past 14 days are not allowed to enter the United States unless they are exempt from the ban or are given advance permission by US authorities. However, in recent weeks, consulates have streamlined the process for requesting permission, and many individuals who were caught overseas when the travel bans took effect earlier this year have been able to return to the United States.
Travel Restrictions Abroad
For non-US destinations, several resources that compile the latest developments are available to the public. As the situation is still changing quickly, check the “Last Updated” date on websites to be sure you are reviewing the most timely information:
- Government websites
- US Department of State: COVID-19 Country Specific Information
This resource links to the COVID-19 pages of US embassies and consulates around the world. Consulates provide the latest local COVID-19 data, as well as information on entry and exit requirements, movement restrictions, and quarantine information. The frequency of updates varies from consulate to consulate.
- European Union: Re-open EU Web Platform
This website is aimed at EU citizens and provides information on requirements for EU citizens who are traveling between EU countries. It is published by the Communication department of the European Commission. Given its limited scope, non-EU citizens may want to consult other sources. This platform is updated very regularly.
- UN World Tourism Organization: Overview of trends
Since the epidemic began, the UNWTO has released 3 reports on international travel. The most recent was published on July 30, 2020, and contains information collected in mid-July. While the data is a bit out of date, this is useful for those interested in overall trends.
- Private Resources
- International Air Transport Association (IATA): Interactive Coronavirus (COVID‑19) Travel Regulations Map
As international airlines have a vested interest in keeping up to date on travel restrictions, airlines often have the most up-to-date information. IATA is a trade association for airlines that publishes the information it gathers for its members in a public database.
- Kayak: Travel restrictions
Kayak, a travel-booking website, has a clickable map that links to basic information on various destinations. Guidance is also available from individual airlines.