Many countries are seeing a rise in COVID-19 case numbers once again. In Europe it looks as if the dreaded second wave is striking many areas. And yet things are continuing to open up in the world of travel and tourism. A significant number of countries appear to be realizing they need to work out ways to open borders sooner rather than later. As ever, requirements and approaches vary, but the trend is broadly towards allowing incoming visitors.
Airlines are getting involved too, with new pre-departure testing trials that will hopefully help things along, improving confidence among passengers and immigration authorities alike. Recent reports of highly reliable coronavirus-sniffing dogs at airports are also promising.
The various stakeholders can feel good about new research that seems to support the notion the 14-day quarantines are largely unnecessary. Take the initial results from an Air Canada study completed with the Greater Toronto Airports Authority looking at the effect of testing international travelers on arrival. The study found that only a tiny fraction of arrivals who had COVID-19 were not discovered with a test on arrival, and none were discovered beyond a test 7 days after arrival. Here’s hoping more data comes out to support this and at least the two week quarantine can become a thing of the past, replaced with quick and efficient testing protocols.
6 places that are open for travel in October
With that in mind here’s the latest list of countries that have opened up to tourists or will do so at some point this month.
Panama – open from October 12
Entry requirements: negative test within 48 hours or upon arrival. From October 12 onward visitors can enter Panama as normal provided they have a negative PCR test from within 48 hours of arrival. Testing at the airport on arrival is also an option, which is good news because many travelers may find it difficult to get a negative test result on such a short turnaround. Costs for the test on arrival will be paid by the passenger though it’s unclear how much it will cost. Arriving passengers will also need to fill out an “Electronic Affidavit” confirming they are healthy and will abide by all health protocols.
Current COVID-19 trend: stable. Cases are present but the trend is holding steady and daily deaths are well below their summer peak.
El Salvador – open
Entry requirements: negative test taken within 72 hours. El Salvador is open to everyone who wants to visit provided they arrive with a negative PCR test. Of the countries on this list, it has been open the longest and the protocol seems to be working fine so far.
Current COVID-19 trend: improved. Though there are some reports of unreliable data, officially at least case numbers are below their peak and relatively stable.
Pakistan – open from today
Entry requirements: negative test within 96 hours for some countries; others exempt. The US and UK are not currently exempt from the requirement to present a PCR test. The list of countries that are exempt can be found here. Children under 12 and disabled passengers are reportedly exempt from the testing requirement regardless of their origin point. Visitors need to register with the Pass Track app (Android only) or through this web form. Arriving passengers may also be screened at the airport.
Current COVID-19 trend: good. Case numbers have dropped significantly in recent weeks and are remaining low for the time being.
Uganda – open
Entry requirements: negative test within 72 hours of arrival AND a negative test before departure as well. Uganda is unusual in requiring a COVID test before leaving the country. That test needs to happen no more than 120 hours before departure. Keep in mind also that there is a national curfew between 9pm and 6am, though if you have a flight between those hours you are permitted to go to/from the airport.
Current COVID-19 trend: relatively okay. Uganda’s case count was on the rise through September but in absolute terms their outbreak has been reasonably small with just under 9,000 cases so far and 81 deaths.
Ukraine – open
Entry requirements: negative test 48 hours prior or upon arrival to avoid quarantine for “red zone” countries including the US. Most countries are on the “green zone” list and for people arriving from those countries, provided they haven’t been in a red zone for 14 days prior, no restrictions are in effect. For those from a “red zone”, a contact tracing app must also be downloaded.
Current COVID-19 trend: higher than ever. Case numbers are high and continuing to rise, and daily deaths are also high.
Bahamas – open without quarantine from November 1
Entry requirements: negative test within 7 days of departure, approved health visa, test on arrival and test on day 5 (cost included in visa). The situation in The Bahamas is a little more complicated, but from November 1 it will reportedly become much easier to travel there. Currently the country is planning to reopen from October 15 but with a “vacation in place” rule for visitors. That means they will have to stay within a vacation rental or hotel. However from November 1 visitors who test negative in advance and upon arrival, and obtain a “health visa”, will be able to skip quarantine.
Current COVID-19 trend: rising but low overall. The Bahamas have had less than 5,000 cases in total, and though numbers have gone up the situation seems to be mostly under control.
Where else is open?
These additions join a growing list of destinations (previously covered with more details here, here and here) that are open to most visitors, including:
- Dominican Republic
- Albania, North Macedonia, Kosovo and Serbia
- French Polynesia
There are other countries that are open as well but I’ve left off those with cumbersome restrictions, a lack of clear information or infection data, or extended local curfews. Are you looking to travel to any of these countries? Have I missed any others that are currently straightforward to visit? Let me know!