How is it nearly July already? With more than half of 2021 already in the rear view mirror, there’s good news as more and more destinations either open their borders or loosen their regulations.
Good news, Americans who want to travel domestically – more and more local restrictions are disappearing, and new attractions are opening. First up, the Resorts World complex has opened in Las Vegas on June 24.
The mega-complex is home to a food hall, more than 40 bars and restaurants, a dedicated poker room (this is Vegas, after all), and three hotels – the Las Vegas Hilton, the Conrad Las Vegas and Crockfords Las Vegas. There’s also plenty of air-conditioning, which anyone who has ever visited Nevada in July will doubtless appreciate.
Meanwhile, the islands of Hawaii are gradually reducing their restrictions as vaccination rates hit 60% in the Aloha State. The state’s governor, David Ige, announced that as of July 8 vaccinated travelers from the US mainland will be allowed to bypass quarantine and pre-travel testing requirements.
On the same date, other new rules will come into effect. Indoor gathering sizes can go from 10 people to 25, and restaurants can have up to 75% capacity.
Travelers who’d prefer to take their beach vacation outside the borders of the US will be pleased to hear that the French Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe – Basse-Terre, Grande-Terre, Les Saintes, Marie Galante and La Desirade – are now welcoming Americans.
Visitors will need to show paperwork that confirms either a) they are at least two weeks past their date of full vaccination or b) they have a negative Covid antigen test within 72 hours of arriving.
Unvaccinated travelers can also visit the islands, but they’ll need to isolate for seven days.
European countries have been popping open like the doors on an Advent calendar. Two of the latest to join the party are Switzerland and Sweden, which both opened their borders this week to travelers from the US and other approved nations.
It feels like all of Europe is opening up over the summer – at least if you’re from the US.
First up is Austria. The beautiful cities of Vienna, Graz and Salzburg are open for American travelers as of June 24. In order to enter the country, tourists will need one of three things: a certificate of vaccination, certificate of Covid recovery or a negative coronavirus test result. Documentation needs to be in English or German. The list of accepted vaccines are Pfizer-BioNtech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson/Janssen, Oxford/AstraZeneca, Sinopharm or Sinovac.
Good news if you’d like to extend your trip, as neighboring Switzerland has also confirmed that its borders will open to American visitors effective June 26. The rules: you must have either been a) fully vaccinated within the last 12 months, b) recovered from Covid-19 within the last 6 months or c) carrying proof of a negative PCR test. These guidelines do not apply to travelers under the age of 16 unless they are not accompanied by an adult.
Further south, the islands of Malta have also flung open their borders to Americans – but not every American. Visitors must be coming from one of 40 US states and territories in order to travel.
At this point, it might just be faster to list the states that are excluded – Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming. Everyone else – including folks from Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia – can enjoy Valletta’s UNESCO-listed heritage buildings and the gorgeous waters off Gozo.
Clearly, June 24 was a landmark day in Europe. Another border opening to American travelers that day was the Netherlands, which has put no restrictions on the kinds of visitors who can come – as in, no negative Covid test or other paperwork to sort out before you book your flight. It’s sort of like traveling in the “before times” at this point.
Up in the United Kingdom, celebrate the beautiful Farne Islands, which are welcoming visitors after being closed for about a year and a half. The islands, which are off the coast of Northumberland, closed earlier than many destinations and haven’t welcomed any travelers since 2019. You can now book a boat tour, which will allow you to get up close to the islands’ adorable puffin colonies.
While we covered the reopening of France in an earlier edition of this pandemic travel roundup, there are two new attractions worth adding to your list.
Samaritaine Paris Pont-Neuf, an Art Deco landmark on the Rive Droite, has at last reopened its glamorous department store to the public as of June 22. The building, a heritage property, had been sadly neglected before luxury conglomerate LVMH stepped in to fund repairs. No less than French President Emmanuel Macron was on hand to celebrate its reopening.
And on the other end of the Paris spectrum, Disneyland Paris debuted Hotel New York: The Art of Marvel on June 21, four days after the park reopened to guests. Fans of Black Widow, Captain America, Spider-Man and the rest won’t want to miss the many selfie opportunities sprinkled throughout the property.
Middle East and Africa
Other signs of progress have emerged in the Middle East and in Africa.
Dubai International Airport, one of the world’s busiest hubs, reopened Terminal One on June 25. While that may not sound like a big deal, it’s a sign that international flights are ready to return – and, of course, bring travelers along with them.
“Dubai’s aviation sector has been at the forefront of a global campaign to restore vital international air services with the opening of quarantine-free travel corridors between the UAE and multiple countries around the world,” Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman of Dubai Airports, said in a press release.
In other words? This major international hub is ready to ferry more people to vacation destinations like Italy, the Maldives and the Seychelles.
Abu Dhabi, the Emirati capital, is offering up free Covid-19 vaccines to any traveler who wants one. Previously, these vaccines were only available to citizens or residency visa holders, but the potential of a “vaxication” could bring even more eager tourists – and their wallets – into the country.
The picturesque country of Mauritius off the coast of East Africa in the Indian Ocean has kicked off the first phase of its multipart reopening plan. From July 15 to September 30, vaccinated visitors can take part in a system similar to Sri Lanka’s “bubble resort” program, where they stay put at their accommodation of choice for 14 days and then, upon completion of the semi-quarantine, can travel freely around the island.
Over in Australia, meanwhile, the country’s superstrict restrictions are about to get even stricter.
Cautionary tale of the week
Now that the world is opening up again, what will you do on your much-awaited vacation? Many beach resorts are jumping on the “floating breakfast” trend, where you can enjoy breakfast in bed, except that your “bed” is actually a private plunge pool and your breakfast is … well, still a breakfast.
Two men in Australia’s Royal National Park were fined $760 each for violating Sydney’s latest round of lockdowns after police found them naked and lost in the bush as they apparently fled from a wild animal.
CNN’s Keith Allen, Josh Campbell, Karla Cripps and Zeena Saifii,contributed reporting.