Vaccinated visitors from third countries planning to travel to the Netherlands may soon be subject to milder travel restrictions, as the country’s government is discussing such a possibility.

Besides, the country may soon lift its advice not to travel to many countries due to the current COVID-19 situation, unless for essential reasons, as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is working on such a plan, a spokesperson told De Telegraaf, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

“The virus is not going away. You cannot keep the world locked up, and we recognize the importance of travel,” the Ministry spokesperson pointed out, as reported by De Telegraaf.

“We understand the unrest in the travel world and are looking for a solution – the world can’t stay locked, but passenger safety and Dutch public health must be guaranteed,” the spokespersons told the Dutch newspaper.

However, it is still unclear how the new system would work, as the policy will not be implemented any time soon.

On September 4, the Dutch government started to abolish some of its policies applied until that date as a preventive measure imposed to halt the further spread of the virus. Since the exact date, the country’s government lifted the “variant countries” terms for territories considered as a variant of concern, using instead only the terms as orange or red for countries highly affected by the virus.

Such a decision means that vaccinated travellers from territories that have reported a large number of COVID-19 infections are no longer urged to get tested for COVID-19 before returning to the Dutch territory.

According to the figures published by the World Health Organization, a total of 1,961,585 people have tested positive for the Coronavirus up to this point, while 18,055 have died.

Previously, the Dutch government said that some of the restrictions imposed to stop the spread of the virus and its new strains could be lifted on September 20; however, the planned date is likely to be postponed.

In this regard, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that as long as the infection rate and the number of COVID-19 patients in the country’s hospitals remain under control, some of the current restrictions could be lifted.

At present, the Netherlands is among European countries that keep in place the toughest restrictions imposed as a response to the recent surge in the number of infections recorded in other countries.

Recently, authorities in the Netherlands imposed stricter entry restrictions for arrivals from the US, following the EU Council recommendation.

In this regard, the Dutch government stressed that vaccinated travellers from the US must undergo a ten-day compulsory quarantine upon their arrival in the Netherlands. However, authorities clarified that the period of quarantine could be shortened if travellers test negative for the virus on the fifth day.

GEORGE TOWN: Only those who have been fully vaccinated, including those from states under Phase One of the National Recovery Plan (NRP), will be allowed to visit Langkawi, says Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri.

However, the Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister said those who come from enhanced movement control order (MCO) areas would not be entitled to the pioneer travel bubble project relaxation, which starts on Sept 16.

“Local tourists have options to visit Langkawi – either via flight or land routes.

“Those who are travelling by road to visit Langkawi must use the services of a tourist agency, or at least use transportation services from the start of their journey to the Langkawi ferry jetty.

“However, those who travel by air or come from Kedah and Perlis are not required to use the services of travel agencies,” she said during a virtual press conference on Thursday (Sept 9).

Nancy said visitors should also show proof of purchase of tourism products such as ferry tickets or hotel receipts when applying for police permission to travel.

She said the types of vacations allowed in the travel bubble project are a day visit, overnight stay, vacation with accommodation booking made in advance and travel packages through a travel company licensed and registered with the ministry.

She said the number of passengers per vehicle allowed while travelling to Langkawi was subject to the vehicle capacity.

She said among the tourism activities allowed are staying at hotels and homestays, including the usage of facilities such as surau, swimming pools, gymnasium, lounge, hall and business events.

She said beach activities, water sports, snorkelling, scuba diving, fishing tours, edutainment centres, recreation parks, extreme/adventure/nature parks, farms, aquariums, zoos and other leisure, recreational and social activities would also be allowed.

“They will also be allowed to play golf, cycle, angling, yachting and others while vacationing on the island,” she said, adding that geo-travel activities such as bird watching, caving, hiking and jungle trekking were also allowed.

She said there was no age limit to visit Langkawi but those below 18 must travel with their parents who are fully vaccinated.

She added that insurance coverage and Covid-19 screening is not compulsory.

SINGAPORE – The first flight ferrying passengers from Germany travelling under a quarantine-free scheme has landed at Changi Airport.

SQ325, operated by Singapore Airlines (SIA), touched down at 5.36pm on Wednesday (Sept 8). It departed from Frankfurt at about 10pm local time on Tuesday, or 4am on Wednesday, Singapore time.

The plane was expected to land at Terminal 3 at 4.25pm on Wednesday, but arrived later due to a reroute to avoid Afghan airspace.

SQ325’s landing marks the start of Singapore’s Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) scheme, which is open to Brunei and Germany.

Vaccinated travellers under the scheme will take up to four Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction tests in lieu of quarantine, and have to follow other conditions like taking designated VTL flights to Singapore.

Germany-based aviation journalist Andreas Spaeth, 55, who was on the flight, told The Straits Times he was happy to travel again on an SIA plane, and praised the airline for its service on board.

He was travelling to Singapore as part of a media trip organised by SIA and the Singapore Tourism Board. He had first visited the Republic in 1986.

“It’s very heartening to get a feeling of more normality coming back to travel life being able to go to Singapore again,” he added. “But I am slightly anxious (over) how easygoing formalities on arrival will be in Changi.”

While Brunei remains closed to leisure travel, Germany has been open to travellers from the Republic since October last year. This means Singapore residents can use the VTL scheme to travel without quarantine in either country.

The VTL’s successful start has brought relief to travel agents and would-be travellers, who had feared the scheme might be derailed, as with the Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble.

The bubble for quarantine-free travel was supposed to launch last November, but was delayed several times on the back of unstable Covid-19 situations in both cities. It was cancelled last month without a single flight taking off.


Aviation journalist Andreas Spaeth was one of the passengers on board the first VTL flight from Germany. PHOTO: ANDREAS SPAETH

Mr Steven Ler, president of the National Association of Travel Agents Singapore, said the first VTL flight has been a breakthrough from the unsuccessful air travel bubble with Hong Kong.

He added that the reopening to Germany is a good start for international leisure travel, with travel agents already receiving inquiries for trips to Germany for year-end holidays.

“We hope to see things pick up a lot more, and that will give a lot more confidence to those who are still adopting a wait-and-see approach.”

Madrid (CNN) — The grip of the Delta variant of Covid-19 on the United States and the world continues to have travel ramifications as the summer travel season winds down.

Spain is the latest nation to tighten access to its borders.

In a change from policy earlier this summer , Spain is allowing tourists from the United States only if they are fully vaccinated, the health ministry told CNN on Tuesday.

The new rule took effect this week.

It states that visitors from the United States on so-called “nonessential travel,” such as tourism, must show “a vaccination certificate that the (Spanish) Ministry of Health recognizes as valid.”

The change affects US citizens and other third-country nationals traveling from the United States to Spain for tourism, the health ministry told CNN.

Following EU recommendations

The change came after the European Union last week removed the United States from a list of about 20 non-EU countries that are exempt from the “nonessential travel” rule.

The recommendation is nonbinding. But Spain, an EU member, adopted the change, stating it was for “public health reasons due to Covid-19.”

The US Embassy in Madrid tweeted about the new rule, saying that “US travelers to Spain for nonessential purposes (including tourism) will be required to show proof of vaccination.”

Spain has other exemptions for US citizens, such as working diplomats or others who reside in Spain. They can still enter the country just by showing a negative result from a PCR or antigen test or a certificate of recovery from Covid-19, the health ministry said.

But tourists now must come fully vaccinated.

Other recent actions in Europe

A picture taken on September 14, 2020 shows the Ponte Vecchio bridge (Old Bridge) a medieval stone closed-spandrel segmental arch bridge over the Arno River, in Florence. (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP) (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images)

US tourists wanting to see the Ponte Vecchio, the famed medieval arch bridge in Florence, now have to follow Italy’s stricter travel measures to enter.

Getty Images

On September 4, the Netherlands started requiring that US visitors be fully vaccinated, and it still imposes a quarantine.

Italy, one of the first European countries to open its borders earlier this year, has also introduced new measures affecting arrivals from all destinations, including the United States. On August 31, it began requiring all visitors to have a negative results from a PCR or antigen Covid test taken within 72 hours of travel, regardless of whether they are vaccinated.

And Sweden has decided not to allow US tourists to visit at all, even if they are fully vaccinated.

CDC warnings

Meanwhile, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning travelers away from Spain and some of its European neighbors during this Delta variant spike.

The CDC posts an evolving list of travel notices on Covid-19 risk that ranges from Level 1 (“low”) to Level 4 (“very high”).

Destinations that fall into the “Covid-19 Very High” Level 4 category have had more than 500 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 28 days, according to CDC criteria. The CDC advises to “avoid travel to these destinations. If you must travel to these destinations, make sure you are fully vaccinated before travel.”

Vaccinated travelers heading to the Netherlands will need to plan around a quarantine period after the country announced plans to tighten restrictions on the U.S.

The European Union member state is moving the U.S. into its “very high-risk” category on Saturday, which will prohibit entry among unvaccinated travelers from the U.S. and require testing and a quarantine period for those who are vaccinated. 

Starting Saturday, vaccinated U.S. travelers must quarantine 10 days but can cut the isolation period short if they test negative for coronavirus on day five. Children 12 and under are exempt, according to the Government of the Netherlands’ website.

Starting Monday, the country will also require U.S. travelers to show a negative test result to enter, starting Monday.  

The new restrictions do not apply to the Caribbean islands Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten, which are part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, according to the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The changes come on the heels of the European Union’s decision to move the U.S. off its safe travel list, which signaled to member states that they should no longer ease restrictions on nonessential travel for people from the U.S. as COVID-19 cases spike.

As of Friday, the seven-day moving average of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. was 153,246 with nearly 53% of the population fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Previously, U.S. travelers were able to show proof of recovery or vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to enter.

The Netherlands is the latest to announce new restrictions against U.S. travelers. EU member state Bulgaria announced it would move the U.S. into its “red zone” and prohibit travel from the U.S., and Italy added testing and self-isolation requirements for U.S. travelers earlier this week.

Israel, Kosovo, Montenegro and North Macedonia are also set to move to the Netherlands’ “very high-risk” category.

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Last-minute shakeups for travelers

Cole Turner Franco of Austin, Texas, had wanted to make a quick stop in the Netherlands during his move to Oxford, England, next week but had to throw his plans out the window to avoid the new quarantine mandate.

He had intended to fly with his Pomeranian, Yuki, to Amsterdam and then ferry to the U.K. – which doesn’t allow pets in the cabin on international flights – and have his husband join them at a later date. As a fully vaccinated U.S. citizen, Turner Franco thought he would have an easy time getting into the Netherlands.

Then the new travel restrictions were announced. 

To avoid the quarantine period, Turner Franco added another leg to the journey in France immediately after landing in the Netherlands, which does allow travelers from “high-risk” areas to have a layover in the country so long as they do not leave the airport. From there, he’ll

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Motorists head west along Interstate 70 to get an early start on the Fourth of July holiday weekend Thursday, July 1, 2021, near Golden, Colo. With COVID restrictions being eased, travelers are expected to be on the roads in spite of gasoline prices topping the $4-mark across the country. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

AP

Labor Day weekend is just around the corner — but we’re still in a pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautioned hopeful travelers during a press briefing on Tuesday.

And that means you should still take certain precautions — vaccinated or otherwise.

“First and foremost, if you’re unvaccinated, we would recommend not traveling,” CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at the White House COVID-19 Response Team briefing.

Walensky added that people who are fully vaccinated and wearing masks can travel, but should weigh the risks of doing so first.

“If gathering with family or friends, remember that spending time outside with others who are vaccinated will help to prevent transmission,” Walensky said. “Throughout the pandemic we have seen that the vast majority of transmission takes place among unvaccinated people in closed, indoor settings.”

“Second, when in public indoor settings, please wear a mask — vaccinated or unvaccinated,” she said.

The Mayo Clinic also suggested in June that people with weakened immune systems take extra precautions regardless of their vaccination status, including wearing masks, avoiding congregated areas and moving social gatherings outdoors.

And Dr. Marybeth Sexton, an assistant professor of medicine at Emory University in Atlanta, told TODAY that heightened coronavirus spread as the holiday nears is “really unfortunate” — and offered a suggestion on how to make your celebrations a bit safer.

“I think as a general rule, avoiding large gatherings right now, when we’ve got health care systems that are really at capacity is the smart thing to do,” Sexton said.

If you do travel and are unvaccinated, the CDC recommends you:

  • Get tested for COVID-19 between one to three days before traveling
  • Self-quarantine for a week after you return and get tested within five days — or self-quarantine for 10 days if you aren’t tested
  • Avoid people at high-risk for severe COVID-19 for two weeks after returning

Vaccinated people are only urged to get tested for COVID-19 after travel if exhibiting symptoms.

The CDC’s Labor Day travel guidance comes as concerns over the highly transmissible delta variant continue to loom. The variant has driven an increase in new cases, hospitalizations and deaths over the last several months.

Prompted by the delta variant, the CDC revised its face mask guidance in late July to recommend that people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 wear masks in public, indoor settings in areas with “substantial and high transmission” of the coronavirus. Unvaccinated people are also urged to wear masks in crowded outdoor settings and indoor public settings.

The Transportation Security Administration announced it requires masks for all travelers on “airports, onboard commercial aircraft, on over-the-road buses, and on commuter bus and rail systems through

April DeMuth and her partner, Warren Watson, had just finished what they described as the perfect vacation in Greece when they took a coronavirus test at the Athens airport. They had spent their days sipping coffee on their hotel balcony overlooking the Venetian windmills in Mykonos; driving buggies across red sand beaches in Santorini; watching the Parthenon turn shades of gold at sunset; and eating gyros at midnight.

Every detail of their trip ran seamlessly until they were waiting in line for their flight home to South Carolina on Aug. 3, when Mr. Watson, 51 — who, along with Ms. DeMuth, is fully vaccinated — received an email saying he had tested positive for the coronavirus.

“We were in total shock and didn’t know what to do,” Mr. Watson recalled. “Then 10 minutes later we received a call from the Greek authorities telling us they were going to get a van and take us to a quarantine hotel.”

When Europe reopened its borders to Americans in June after a 15-month ban, the highly contagious Delta coronavirus variant was not as prevalent as it is today, and breakthrough infections for the fully vaccinated were rare. But now, with the Delta strain making up more than 90 percent of the cases in Europe and the United States, stories of travelers catching the virus abroad — including those who are fully vaccinated — are beginning to surface. Their plans have been upended by mandatory quarantine requirements in different countries.

The Times spoke with 11 people who got sick with Covid-19 during recent vacations to Europe and were forced to extend their trips to recover. Among them were adults and children between 12 and 62 years old, who traveled to Britain, France, Italy, Spain, Greece and Cyprus.

In Athens, Ms. DeMuth and Mr. Watson were required to spend a minimum of seven days in a quarantine hotel that was paid for and provided by the Greek government. They were not allowed to leave their room until the seventh day and after they both tested negative for the virus.

“It was very well organized, and they were extremely nice to us,” Ms. DeMuth said of the first days of their quarantine. “They brought us three meals a day and anything we ordered on the internet was delivered to our door.”

“I mean we’re going a little stir-crazy,” Mr. Watson added during a recent telephone interview from the hotel where they were quarantining. “We aren’t allowed to leave our room and there is a major heat wave and fires in the area, but we can still poke our heads out the window.”

The couple suspect they caught the virus in South Carolina in July before they traveled to Greece. Ms. DeMuth had mild coldlike symptoms that passed quickly, and Mr. Watson said he felt some drainage at the back of his throat on the way to the airport, but he assumed it was allergy symptoms, which are common for him around

Canada will reopen to fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents next month.

“On August 9, 2021, at 12:01 a.m. EDT, fully vaccinated citizens and permanent residents of the United States (U.S.), currently residing in the U.S., will be permitted to enter Canada for discretionary (non-essential) travel,” Canada said in a statement.

A COVID-19 vaccination must be complete 14 days prior to entry. 

Children under the age of 12 or who are not yet eligible for vaccination in the U.S. or unvaccinated dependent children will be allowed to enter the country with a fully vaccinated parent, step-parent, tutor or guardian who is eligible to enter Canada.

Entry to the country will be denied to U.S. travelers who are not fully vaccinated and all other foreign nationals.

On Sept. 7, Canada intends to allow fully vaccinated travelers from any country to enter “provided that Canada’s COVID-19 epidemiology remains favourable.”

Canada leads G-20 countries in vaccination rates, with approximately 80% of eligible Canadians vaccinated with their first dose and over 50% of those eligible fully vaccinated.

Travelers who wish to enter must have a vaccine that is accepted by the government of Canada, which includes the Pfizer-BioNtech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccines, and they must be able to show proof of vaccine in English or French or with a certified translation in addition to the original copy.

There are additional requirements to enter Canada, including that travelers must:

  • Provide COVID-19 related information such as proof of vaccine through ArriveCAN’s app or web portal before departing for Canada.
  • Meet pre-entry testing requirements.
  • Be asymptomatic when arriving.
  • Submit a quarantine plan.
  • Be ready to quarantine if necessary.

On Aug. 9, the government will also implement other COVID-19 travel-related changes. For domestic and international flights, airlines will no longer be required to take the temperature of boarding passengers, and the required three-night, government subsidized hotel stays for travelers arriving by air will be eliminated, too. A quarantine requirement for children under 12 will also be removed.

The country also announced plans to open its waters to cruise ships starting Nov. 1. 

When will U.S.-Canada border open to Canadians?

Land border restrictions on nonessential travel between Canada and the U.S. have been in place since March 2020, and in June were extended through July 21.

It is unclear when the U.S. will lift restrictions.

“To reduce the spread of COVID-19, the United States extended restrictions on non-essential travel at our land and ferry crossings with Canada and Mexico through July 21, while ensuring access for essential trade & travel,” the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement provided Monday by DHS spokesperson Angelo Fernández.

“DHS also notes positive developments in recent weeks and is participating with other U.S. agencies in the White House’s expert working groups with Canada and Mexico to identify the conditions under which restrictions may be eased safely and sustainably,” the DHS statement continued.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, who said he spoke with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary

Canadian borders could be reopening to U.S. travelers this summer. 

During a call with the country’s premiers, Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau indicated that fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents could gain access to entry in mid-August for nonessential travel, according to a statement from his office. 

The Prime Minister also noted that the country would be in a position to welcome fully vaccinated travelers from all countries by early September if vaccination efforts continue on a “positive path.” 

“First Ministers expressed their support of reopening plans, and agreed on the importance of ensuring clarity and predictability as initial steps are taken,” the Thursday statement said. “First Ministers discussed the importance of working collaboratively on a proof of vaccination credential, and prioritizing work to implement a system that would enable Canadians to travel internationally with confidence.”

Border restrictions on nonessential travel between Canada and the U.S. had been in place since March 2020, and in June were extended through July 21.

More details on reopening plans should be released early next week, according to the statement. 

As of July 10, nearly 44% of Canada’s population has been fully vaccinated, according to the latest data on the Canadian Government’s website. Trudeau told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in May that he would prefer to wait until 75% of the country is vaccinated before fully reopening the border.

The country also just announced plans to open its waters to cruise ships starting Nov. 1. 

Canada border:Airline trade groups urge Canada to put border-reopening plans in motion by June 21

Canada cruises:Canada cuts its ban on cruises short, plans to welcome back cruise ships Nov. 1

Finally, after weeks of refusing to tether himself to a timeline, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has laid out a firmer plan with loose dates attached for reopening the U.S.-Canada border to tourists.

Canada will begin welcoming fully vaccinated American non-essential travelers in mid-August, according to an official summary of a meeting between Trudeau and provincial leaders yesterday. The government is apparently planning to open the border to vaccinated U.S. travelers weeks before a broader re-opening to vaccinated travelers from other countries.

“The Prime Minister noted that, if our current positive path of vaccination rate and public health conditions continue, Canada would be in a position to welcome fully vaccinated travelers from all countries by early September,” according to the summary. “He noted the ongoing discussions with the United States on reopening plans, and indicated that we could expect to start allowing fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents into Canada as of mid-August for non-essential travel.”

MORE: Meet ArriveCAN: How To Use Canada’s Vaccine Passport When The Border Finally Reopens

The 5,525-mile border between the U.S. and Canada has been closed to non-essential travel since March 2020. The closure has been extended on a month-by-month basis, and the current restrictions officially expire in five days, on July 21 — and are expected to be extended one last time.

For months, the prime minister has insisted that he is in no hurry to reopen the border, and has instead followed the recommendations of health experts for a slow, phased process based on vaccination rates and Covid-19 case counts. “We’re on the right path, but we’ll make our decisions based on the interests of Canadians and not based on what other countries want,” said Trudeau in late May.

The prime minister reiterated his ‘slowly, slowly’ messaging earlier this week, when he told reporters in Quebec, “As we have been every step of the way, we are going to be cautious and responsible and take things step-by-step.”

But Trudeau has also been clear that there will be a different set of protocols in place for travelers depending on their vaccination status, saying that it will be some time before unvaccinated international travelers will be allowed into the country.

“I can tell you right now that’s not going to happen for quite a while,” Trudeau told reporters at a press conference earlier this month in British Columbia, noting that his “first focus” was how to reopen the border to travelers who have received two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. 

Trudeau’s insistence on keeping travel restrictions in place along the U.S.-Canada border has drawn criticism from business leaders on both sides of the border, but he has maintained the support of the majority of Canadians.

According to a survey by the Angus Reid Institute, published just yesterday, nearly seven in 10 Canadians (69%) want the travel ban to remain in place until 75% of Canadians are