Welcome to our bi-weekly post to catch you up on changes to travel and immigration due to Covid-19. We are in the middle of what is typically "peak season" for global mobility activity and while there have been challenges and even chaos in the travel world, passenger numbers for leisure and business flights have rebounded to exceed pre-pandemic numbers. While there are a host of challenges that can impact (and are impacting) the relocating employee experience, let's look around to see adjustments being made due to worsening or improving Covid-19 circumstances. While many of the restrictions that protected travelers in the past have been removed, it is important to remain aware:
- Germany: Per ABC News, the German government says basic coronavirus requirements will remain in place during the coming fall and winter, when experts expect COVID-19 cases to rise again as people spend more time indoors. Face masks and presenting proof of a negative coronavirus test will be mandatory from October until early April for numerous institutions and activities like airplanes and passenger trains. In Germany the states are allowed to add more requirements so state governments could decide to require masks on local public transportation, in schools for students in fifth grade and up, and at public indoor events.
- France: The country has dropped all Covid-19 restrictions for international travelers. As of Aug. 1, you no longer need to provide proof of vaccination or recovery from the virus when crossing France’s border. You are no longer required to show proof of a negative PCR or antigen test upon arrival in France. You are also no longer required to fill out any forms prior to your arrival in France, such as a justification for travel or a sworn statement.
- United Kingdom: Data suggests that infection rates have continued to decrease across much of the UK. Infections fell 19% from the previous week and the number of people in the hospital with the virus also is decreasing. The government announced last month that everyone aged 50 and over in the UK will be offered another Covid booster vaccine this autumn.
- China: According to Crisis24, officials in Macau will ease quarantine requirements for inbound travelers from locations outside of mainland China from Aug. 6. Travelers arriving from Hong Kong, Taiwan, or other international locations may quarantine for a shorter seven-day period instead of 10 days if they test negative for COVID-19 on arrival. Individuals must take five nucleic acid tests during quarantine and undergo self-health management for three more days. The new measures will also apply to travelers currently under quarantine in Macau. New COVID-19 restrictions imposed across China with lockdowns in Yiwu and the province of Hainan, which is battling its worst outbreak. The tourist resort of Sanya, which is on the island, imposed a lockdown on Saturday and restricted transport links. Some 80,000 visitors were enjoying its beaches at peak season, but many are now stuck inside hotels until next Saturday, if not longer.
- Hong Kong: As daily infections continue to rise, starting Friday, Hong Kong will cut its mandatory quarantine for overseas travelers to three days instead of a week. Its COVID policies are not as strict as in mainland China. This will be the shortest quarantine for arrivals since the pandemic began. It still must be at a designated hotel and then follow with 4 days of medical surveillance.
- Malaysia: After lifting the requirement for arrivals to obtain a digital traveler's pass on August 1, Malaysia lifted quarantine requirements for all international arrivals as of August 5th.
- South Korea: per Reuters, daily COVID-19 infections in South Korea have jumped above 40,000 for the first time in two months, with the government warning of a potential five-fold surge in the coming months. The government has no immediate plans to bring back restrictions but does not rule them out if there is a "critical change" in the COVID situation.
- Australia: After reporting two weeks ago on the rising infections in Australia, it may be that Australia's winter COVID wave may have peaked early, health minister says as they see a steady fall in hospital admissions over the past week.
- Russia: Russia reported 20,303 new COVID-19 cases on 7 August – its highest figure since 28 March.
- Japan: while the country is open again to tourists that come with a group, it is not open to individuals not part of a group. The country welcomed about 1,500 leisure tourists, according to data from Japan's Immigration Services Agency. That's down 95% from the same period in 2019, before the pandemic. Much of Japan's tourism travelers come from China which essentially remains sealed off. Internal domestic travel is surging even as Covid-19 infections surge to a record.
- United States: The United States recorded about 120,000 Covid-19 infections per day in July — an unheard of number for a respiratory illness during summer. As the global tally of cases dropped 9% last week, infections are still climbing in the U.S. where cases rose 2%. There is also a new variant of concern. The BA.4.6 variant made up 4.1% of COVID cases for the week ending July 30. The new variant is more prevalent in the midwestern region, where it makes up 10.7% of local cases. The mid-Atlantic region and the South are also seeing rates of BA.4.6 above the national average. This time two weeks ago, we mentioned President Biden had tested positive. Since then, he tested negative...and then positive again! Per the NYT, here are the top 10 US states with cases per 100,000 residents:
This very recent Forbes article (August 2022 Covid-19 And Monkeypox Travel Restrictions) also shares some great regional information for the U.S., Canada, Latin America (Belize, Brazil, Mexico, Costa Rica), Europe (France, Spain, Netherlands), Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Japan, Thailand, and the Philippines.
BERLIN -- The German government on Wednesday said basic coronavirus requirements would remain in place during the coming fall and winter, when experts expect COVID-19 cases to rise again as people spend more time indoors. Face masks and presenting proof of a negative coronavirus test will be mandatory from October until early April at hospitals, nursing homes and similar institutions with vulnerable people. Passengers on airplanes and making long-distance trips by train and bus also will have to wear masks during that period, as they do now. However, Germany's 16 states have the authority to adopt their own rules depending on how severely the virus affects their areas. State governments could decide to require masks on local public transportation, in schools for students in fifth grade and up, and at public indoor events.