Interestingly, per the Henley Passport Index, which is powered by data provided by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the countries with the most powerful passports that give access to a large number of destinations worldwide have kept in place the strictest entry restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while those with lower-ranking passports have not chosen such preventive measures in order to stop the virus’ further spread, creating the widest global mobility gap in the index's 16-year history. At the top of the list are Japan and Singapore, then many EU countries. At the bottom: Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Pakistan. 

Potential international travel lanes, ongoing adjustments to vaccination passports, infection surges and decreases...as relocation and assignment programs continue to monitor the latest happenings that are impacting the ability of companies to move talent into key positions, we continue to post our bi-weekly updates, just "in case you missed it" (ICYMI). The below will contain information regarding specific country restrictions and closures as of the time of the post, but situations are constantly changing, so please check our sources and resources for further updates.  

  1. Singapore: Despite a high rate of vaccination (82%), Singapore has hit a daily record for COVID-19 cases this past week, nearly reaching 3,000 in a day. At the same time, the country is urging for people to remain calm, as 98% of those cases have been mild or asymptomatic. At the same time, as the South China Morning Post shares, Singapore is looking at increasing vaccinated international travel lanes by the end of the year with several countries, including those in Europe and the U.S. However, Singapore is currently largely restricted to foreign travel despite its population touting one of the highest vaccination rates in the world. For U.S. visitors, while it did reduce quarantine from 14 days to 10, according to Bloomberg/Yahoo, American officials are pushing the Singapore government to open a travel lane so visitors from the U.S. can enter the city-state with the same sort of freedoms travelers from Singapore get in the U.S.
  2. New Zealand: Due to being unable to shake the Delta variant, New Zealand is looking to re-strategize and depart the zero-COVID approach and instead look to to live with the virus and control its spread as its vaccination rate rises. The new message comes as Auckland hits nearly 50 days of lockdown. The new approach would end these types of lockdowns once the country hits 90% vaccinated. 
  3. Australia: Melbourne, which is in the middle of its sixth lockdown, overtook Buenos Aires as the city under the longest lockdown. Since March of last year, Melbourne has had a total of 245 days of lockdown. After hitting a record high of infections, the state of Victoria blamed the spike on football parties where people ignored lockdown rules. However, Australia is looking to reopen its border and will be removing its 18-month travel ban as it also moves away from the "zero-COVID" strategy. According to NBC, "The changes will allow Australian citizens and permanent residents to travel abroad once 80 percent of the local adult population is vaccinated. The country is still not open to foreign visitors, but the government said it was working toward welcoming them back in due course."
  4. United Kingdom: A new, simpler travel approach for England has been rolled out until at least the New Year, with more restrictions being relaxed. The previous traffic light system of red, amber and green countries has been replaced with one red list only. Fully vaccinated UK travelers can visit almost all European countries without the need to quarantine on return, but must still carry out some compulsory testing. People who are fully vaccinated won't need a pre-departure test before arrival into England from a non-red country. They still need a day-two test after their arrival. But at the end of October, they will be able to replace their day-two PCR test — which can be rather expensive for families — with a cheaper lateral flow test. However, anyone returning from a red-list country is still required to pay £2,285 to quarantine for 11 nights at a government-approved hotel. Experts are concerned, though, that the UK might be headed into the worst episode yet as we move into winter. 
  5. Israel: The country has tightened rules on it vaccine passport (green pass), which allows individuals to use indoor venues and facilities, and is now requiring them to have had the vaccine booster shot or having recovered from the virus recently. The Guardian reports that this means almost 2 million people will lose their green passes, hence their ability to access shops, restaurants and gyms.
  6. Canada: Having opened the border to fully vaccinated travelers as of Sept. 7, all travelers coming to Canada are required to use the ArriveCAN mobile app prior to arrival where they will submit their personal and travel information. Travelers need to show a pre-arrival COVID-19 molecular test result taken within 72 hours prior to their scheduled entry (by land) or boarding time (by air). All children over the age of 5 are still required to complete the mandatory pre-arrival COVID-19 test. Foreign nationals who are not vaccinated are not allowed to enter Canada unless they qualify for an exemption. Canada is also now allowing direct flights from India, per Lexology.
  7. Portugal: Is Portugal the vaccination winner? Many say yes, as about 98 percent of all of those eligible for vaccines — meaning anyone over 12 — have been fully vaccinated. As of Oct. 1, Portugal ended nearly all of its coronavirus restrictions. When asked how other countries could emulate Portugal's success, Vice Adm. Henrique Gouveia e Melo, who has led the vaccination process since last February, recommended countries find people who are not politicians. For more on Portugal's success story, try this from the New York Times.

While there have been enough vaccinations to fully vaccinate 41% of the global population, the reality is that the distribution has been very lopsided. According to Bloomberg, countries and regions with the highest incomes are getting vaccinated more than 20 times faster than those with the lowest. We'll leave you with this from the Wall Street Journal: "The Apps and Websites You Need for International Travel During Covid and the Reopening."