Two and a half years into the pandemic, numerous countries are dropping their excessively bureaucratic travel rules and/or easing mandates that have essentially barred tourists from visiting. The latest to have done so are Greece and the British Virgin Islands, two vacation hotspots that seem ready to move on from Covid… At last.
The travel industry may be in turmoil amid the wave of flight delays and cancellations, pushing the virus aside and giving us something else to worry about. Irrespective of these more pressing issues, Covid remains a secondary concern, especially when world leaders like the U.S., Canada, Brazil and France are yet to fully lift their own entry requirements.
Luckily, these two sunny destinations are no longer aligned with them:
Greece Ends Mandatory Quarantine For Infected Tourists
In April 12, Greece scrapped all of its Covid mandates and allowed tourism to resume. Prior to that date, the Hellenic Republic had stood firmly on the side of Europe’s pro-restriction group. Throughout most of the crisis, it barred unvaccinated foreigners from visiting and imposed a series of restrictive measures to keep Covid from being imported from abroad.
Surprisingly, in the months leading up to summer, Greek Health officials took a U-turn and decided the country would now join other Mediterranean competitors, including Croatia and Montenegro, in reopening the external EU border. Since then, foreigners have been allowed to enter Greece restriction-free, as it was prior to 2020:
- No vaccination is required
- No pre-departure or post-arrival tests
- No quarantine
- No health registration form
While this was already incredible news for the travel industry, Greece had retained some of its internal Covid curbs, indicating it was not declaring Covid an endemic disease – just yet. Now, even this is slowly changing, as authorities announce that mandatory isolation for infected tourists has been scrapped.
You read that right. In case you get infected traveling in Greece, you will not be required to undergo isolation at a government-listed hotel. All quarantine rooms have been converted back into tourist accommodations, and the five-day isolation period for Covid-positive travelers has ceased applying.
You were infected by Covid during your island-hopping adventure in Greece? No worries! Although you’re advised to isolate until the virus has been cleared, you’re free to carry on traveling as usual, as if you had caught the flu or any widely disseminated respiratory disease treated as endemic.
You will also not be forbidden from accessing any of the following:
- Public transport within Greece, including ferries, trains or planes*
- Museums and cultural sites
- Restaurants and indoor venues
*Valid for domestic routes only (e.g. if you’re infected and flying from Greece to a country that requires a negative test for entry, you will of course not be allowed to board the aircraft)
Despite not being subject to isolation, infected tourists must continue wearing FFFP2 or KN95 face masks if they choose not to quarantine. In other words, Greece’s recent lifting of face masks in all indoor settings does not apply to them, at least until the end of the voluntary quarantine period and/or subsequent negative test.
The British Virgin Islands Scrap All Entry Rules And Declares Covid Endemic
The British Virgin Islands (BVI) may not be as popular in the Caribbean as the likes of Jamaica or the Dominican Republic, but it is always a good sign when more nations, however small, let go of their draconian measures. If you’re visiting the BVI on a cruise in the weeks to come, you may be thrilled to learn that you’re no longer treated as a potential health threat for the archipelago.
On July 15, he Commonwealth collective of small islands lifted its only, yet much criticized entry requirement: that of mandatory pre-departure testing, applying to all irrespective to immunization and/or recovery status. Now that testing has been scrapped, there are officially no Covid mandates left to be observed when crossing the BVI border.
According to Petrona Davies, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, this relaxation is based upon the ‘reduced impact of Covid and the move from pandemic to endemic’. Based on this statement, we can safely assert that the British Virgin Islands is officially leaving Covid behind as it returns to a pre-pandemic state of normality.
Mrs. Davies confirmed that, after two years of living in a state of emergency and the vaccination campaign, the virus is having a ‘very minimal impact’ on the population. Cases may oscillate, but mortality rates have ‘significantly decreased’. She cites the positive health trend as the reason why they are reopening borders and allowing ‘pre-Covid’ tourism.
- No vaccination requirements (including boosters)
- No pre-departure testing
- No post-arrival testing
- No quarantine
- No mandatory proof of Covid health insurance
- No masks indoors or outdoors
Don’t Forget To Get Insured Of The Relaxed Rules
These may be exciting times now that Covid is being treated more like a mild disease and less like a major health threat, but we should not let our guards down: international travel is still very much in a state of chaos, from long delays for passport renewal to the spate of cancellations affecting air passengers.
When flying abroad, make sure you get insured in order to minimize risks of being left stranded, or facing under a financial strain due to flight disruption and other emergency expenses. You can find out more about different insurance policies, including those fit for long-term travel, on this link.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories