Travel vaccine requirements begin in Europe and beyond

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With coronavirus vaccination efforts mounting in many parts of the world, some travelers may be looking forward to their inoculation in hopes of traveling again. And while there are growing arguments against vaccine passports, some nations have begun allowing vaccinated travelers to bypass the usual entry requirements, such as a 14-day quarantine.

European nations and remote tropical islands are among the destinations welcoming vaccinated travelers, even though health experts remain uncertain about coronavirus vaccines’ ability to prevent transmission of the virus.

Most vaccines “have not proven that they decrease transmission, so the patient may still get mild or asymptomatic versions of the disease and they may then be able to transmit it,” said Carlos Acuna-Villaorduna, an infectious-disease physician at Boston Medical Center. “We don’t know yet, but there are groups studying that.”

The risk associated with allowing vaccinated travelers, for now, is that they might carry a contagious amount of the virus without being sick — and could infect unvaccinated people in the destination they are visiting. Perhaps for that reason, some nations allowing vaccinated visitors are still requiring coronavirus tests before arrival.

Here are the destinations that have so far announced that they will allow vaccinated travelers to enter, and what the terms of entry are.

The Seychelles

The islands of the Seychelles are now allowing “all visitors from any part of the world who have been vaccinated” to enter the country without quarantining. The Seychelles’ list of permitted countries for incoming travel no longer applies to those who are fully vaccinated at least two weeks before their arrival.

However, vaccinated visitors will still be required to supply a negative coronavirus test result in the form of a PCR test taken less than 72 hours before travel. Those vaccinated, tested visitors are “allowed free movement throughout their stay in Seychelles,” the islands’ tourism board said in a statement.

Georgia

The non-E.U. nation of Georgia reopened this month to travelers who are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. It will not require testing or prevent those from high-risk nations from entering.

“Citizens of all countries, traveling by air from any country may enter Georgia if they present the document confirming the full course (two doses) of any COVID-19 vaccination at the border checkpoints of Georgia,” the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

Estonia

The government of Estonia, which does not permit U.S.-based travelers because of E.U. entry restrictions, recently announced it will now allow individuals from lower-risk countries who have recovered from the coronavirus or have received an approved coronavirus vaccine, both in the last six months, to visit without quarantining. Proof of previously testing positive for the coronavirus or a vaccination certificate in English, Russian or Estonian will be accepted for entry.

Romania

The E.U. nation of Romania, which does not permit Americans to enter, lifted quarantine requirements for vaccinated travelers on Jan. 18, according to U.K. officials. Travelers from permitted countries such as England will be allowed entry without testing or quarantine after 10 days from their final dose of the vaccine.

Iceland

Beginning in May, travelers from low-risk countries in Europe will be permitted to enter Iceland, an E.U. member, without restrictions if they are fully vaccinated.

Travelers “who are in possession of valid documentation that proves prior infection or vaccination against covid-19” can skip Iceland’s screening and quarantine measures, the country’s government says. The country also notes that its “unique geographical position” may contribute to “measures at the border [that] will most likely be stricter than those prescribed by the EU.”

Cyprus

The island of Cyprus, which is considered European territory by the European Union and is not allowing U.S. travelers to enter, has also announced that starting in March, it will welcome vaccinated travelers who are permitted to visit Europe.

Poland

The government of Poland, which is also subject to E.U. rules denying Americans entry until further notice, allows travelers from European Union nations to enter with proof of vaccination.

“Persons who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 are exempted from the obligatory quarantine (on the basis of a certificate confirming vaccination against COVID-19),” Poland’s entry rules state. The permissions for vaccinated travelers have been in place since Dec. 28.

Read more:

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