Multiple countries have now lifted their COVID-19 travel restrictions. Countries such as Sweden and the United Kingdom, have lifted their travel restrictions, regardless of vaccination status. Both countries lifted their travel restrictions due to the high number of people who are vaccinated, which helps lower the risk of contracting COVID-19.
However, the U.S. is not lifting all of its travel restrictions for a variety of reasons. Part of the reason is because of the Ba.2 COVID-19 variant, which according to an article by MedicalNewsToday, is more contagious and is better at evading immunity compared to BA.1. Ba.2 is a sub-variant of Omicron, and is an Omicron “stealth” variant of COVID-19.
Originally, the mask mandate for air travel was going to be lifted back in January, but has now more recently been pushed back to April 18. However, the date has now been pushed back again to May 3, due to the severity of the Ba.2 sub-variant. According to the CDC, as of April 16, the Ba.2 sub-variant makes up more than 90% of COVID-19 variants in the U.S.
Although the mask mandate for air travel got pushed back to May 3, on April 18, the mandate was dropped due to U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle shutting down the CDC’s mandate. Mizelle shut down the CDC’s mandate because according to an article by NBC Chicago, words it as, “the CDC failed to justify its decision and did not follow proper rule making procedures that left it fatal- ly flawed.”
According to an article by Forrest Brown and Megan Marples of CNN, most states in the United States have dropped their travel restrictions from state to state. States such as Florida, Louisiana, Idaho, and Georgia have dropped their statewide travel restrictions. However, states like Maine require travelers to fill out a travel protocol form and must quarantine for ten days upon their arrival.
According to an article by Trip.com, when traveling to Canada from the United States, people who are not vaccinated must be quarantined for 14 days before traveling to Canada, people who are not vaccinated must also show proof of a negative COVID-19 test no more than 72 hours before departure, and Canada strongly recommends wearing masks as well.
Senior Shradda Bhatia, who traveled to India for three weeks in December of 2021, was required to show her and her family’s vaccination status at the airport.
“So when traveling back [to the United States], we had to get [PCR] tests 24 hours before and then we also have to get one done at the airport for rapid antigen testing, and then you can only board if you got the results,” Bhatia said. “Negative rapid antigen test as well.”
Like many other countries, India’s tourism has been affected. When Bhatia traveled to India, she said that there was less traffic and that people that she talked to over in India said that it felt a lot emptier.
Fortunately, Bhatia said that people were also trying to get back to some sort of normalcy, and people were transitioning back to their normal lives, and the rules in India are pretty loose when it comes to wearing your mask as well.
Although COVID-19 cases have decreased, according to an article by Children’s Hospital and Medical Center, you should still bring a mask with you if you decide to travel during the summer, as that is one way to continue to help not only protect you, but help protect others as well.
Since COVID-19 cases are decreasing and becoming less severe, Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House chief medical advisor, “doesn’t expect the U.S. to see a significant increase in hospitalizations and deaths,” according to an article by Spencer Kimball of CNBC.