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Summer Travel Options Outside The U.S. Are Still Up In The Air As COVID Cases Rise

In this June 16, 2021 file photo, travelers queue up in long lines to pass through the south security checkpoint in Denver International Airport in Denver.
In this June 16, 2021 file photo, travelers queue up in long lines to pass through the south security checkpoint in Denver International Airport in Denver.

Americans desperate to leave the confines of their homes for a last-minute summer destination have a new option. Starting Aug. 9, Canada will reopen to fully-vaccinated Americans for non-essential travel after more than a year of closed borders between the two nations.

A month later, on Sept. 7, fully-vaccinated people from any country can travel to Canada for non-essential travel.

Canada has recorded a steady decline in cases since the spring. On Monday, Canada recorded just 277 confirmed coronavirus cases, according to the World Health Organization. More than 44 million vaccinations have been administered.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday said tourists were welcome but added: "At every step, the safety of Canadians will continue to be our top priority."

The U.S.'s neighbor to the North may be opening its doors in time for a summer trip, but the situation elsewhere is far more unpredictable.

This week, the State Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued the highest warning advising Americans against traveling to the U.K. The federal government also issued travel advisories to Zimbabwe, Indonesia, Fiji, and the British Virgin Islands, due to rising COVID-19 cases.

The U.K. is experiencing a jump in confirmed coronavirus infections due to the spread of the highly contagious delta variant. The strain is being blamed on increased cases around the world, including in Southeast Asia and in the U.S.

"Because of the current situation in the United Kingdom, even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants," the CDC said in its update.

For travel into the U.S., the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requires all air passengers to show a negative COVID-19 test taken within three days of departure. Passengers can also show proof of recovery from the virus within the last 90 days, according to the State Department.

A rise in cases doesn't stop reopening

From July 13 to July 19, the U.K. government recorded 322,170 people tested positive for the coronavirus--an increase of 41.2% compared to the previous week.

U.K. Health Minister Sajid Javid said Tuesday that vaccinations are working despite a rise in infections.

"Although the numbers for both are going up, the ratio of cases to hospitalisations is the lowest it's ever been," he said. "In other words: we are seeing far fewer people who test positive, like I have, going on to need hospital treatment."

Javid tested positive for the coronavirus himself last week after being vaccinated and is in self-isolation.

The U.K. went ahead with lifting many of its remaining pandemic restrictions on Monday, including reopening nightclubs, despite concerns about the risks posed by them.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, "I don't want to have to close nightclubs again - as they have elsewhere - but it does mean nightclubs need to do the socially responsible thing" and require proof of vaccination, a negative test result, or natural immunity as means of entry.

In Thailand, thirteen provinces are tightening lockdown measures until at least Aug. 2 to combat a surge in cases there. That hasn't stopped the island of Phuket from reopening to vaccinated foreign visitors, under strict rules, earlier this month.

The government says it vaccinated more than 70% of the island's population before opening the "Phuket sandbox" in a bid to revive tourism, a key driver of Thailand's economy badly battered by the pandemic.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.