After being battered by the pandemic, South Africa is slowly loosening its restrictions, the country is also considering a vaccine passport. Those interested in our South Africa volunteer vacation, can begin planning for 2022.
Chile, Fiji and South Africa are ready for travelers to come back
September 18, 2021
(CNN) — There have been mixed fortunes for the world's island communities this week, as some have restricted entry due to Covid surges while others are making plans for reopening.
Here's our latest roundup of the biggest news in pandemic travel.
1. More island getaways have been added to the US 'do not travel' list
The popular island destinations of Grenada and Saint Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean and Mauritius in the Indian Ocean have been added to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s "very high" Covid-19 travel risk list.
This means that US citizens are advised to avoid travel there, and to only do so if they're fully vaccinated.
This highest-category risk list is now brimming with some of the world's most-loved tourist destinations, including France, Spain, Turkey, Thailand and the UK.
2. Lithuania will pay to extend your stay
If Lithuania has been on your to-visit list, you're in luck: the Baltic nation is giving out more than 10,000 free hotel stays to travelers visiting this fall.
Independent travelers can sign up online for the "Lithuania. Take your time" program, which will provide a free third night's accommodation after booking two.
That means that the expanses of Trakai Historical National Park and the UNESCO-recognized old city of Vilnius are now easier to visit than ever. The promotion runs until November 8.
Two people on bicycles drive through an empty street in the Old Town of Vilnius, Lithuania, on March 29, 2020
Vilnius' well-preserved old city is home to Medieval buildings.
3. Miami has a team of Covid-sniffing dogs
Good boy and girl alert! Two dogs, Cobra and One Betta, can literally sniff out the coronavirus.
The two pups started working at Miami International Airport (MIA) this week and are tasked with sniffing the face masks of all airport employees when they arrive at work. Both dogs have an accuracy rate of more than 98%.
Miami is the first airport in the U.S. to have trained covid-sniffing dogs, but similar pup programs exist in Finland and the United Arab Emirates.
4. Australia is testing out vaccine passports ...
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that travel can restart once the country hits the mark of 80% of the population being fully vaccinated.
While Aussies are getting excited and dreaming of foreign getaways, the government is working out exactly what the reopening could look like. First step: a vaccine "passport" in the form of a QR code.
5. ... while the UK is divided on the matter
Although the government floated a proposal that would require "vaccine passports" to enter nightclubs, movie theaters and other public places in the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to shelve the plan as well as the mandatory mask wearing regulations.
Instead, his administration will continue to push vaccinations, with booster shots encouraged for front-line health care workers, people over 50 and other at-risk groups.
However, there will be one exception to this: Scotland. The Scottish government has voted to enact a measure where people attending large events will have to show proof of vaccination in order to get in. It goes into effect on October 1.
So, like the Meryl Streep and Steve Martin movie, it's complicated.
6. England green lights the scrapping of traffic lights
Staying with the UK, where months of headscratching over complicated "traffic light" travel restrictions have contributed to the demise of a once world-leading tourism industry, things are about to get a whole lot simpler.
As of October 4, arrivals in England will no longer be governed by constantly changing red-amber-green lists of which countries are deemed safe. Instead there will just be a red no-go list, beyond which everywhere is open.
Stringent PCR testing requirements are also being eased for vaccinated travelers, meaning that journeys to and from the UK are now a lot cheaper as well as easier.
7. Chile is ready to greet guests again
The South American nation of Chile will welcome international travelers starting October 1.
Visitors must present a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to boarding, travel medical insurance with a minimum coverage of $30,000, register on the national C19 website and get a "mobility pass," Chile's version of a vaccine passport where you can upload your information.
All visitors who get the mobility pass have to isolate for five days upon arrival in the country, while those who are unvaccinated or don't get the pass will have to isolate for seven.
But let's get to the fun stuff. Travelers to Chile can enjoy the colorful street art of Valparaiso, the beauty of the world's driest place (the Atacama desert) and the country's newest UNESCO site, the mummies of Chinchorro.
8. Jamaica wants to vaccinate all its tourism employees
What's one way to make tourists feel at ease when they come to stay at hotels and dine at restaurants? Jamaica is hoping that getting 100% of its hospitality workers fully vaccinated will do the trick.
The Tourism Vaccination Task Force's ambitious goal is to vaccinate the 170,000 Jamaicans who work across all sectors of the industry, from airport ground staff to tour operators to craft market vendors.
9. More beautiful islands are re-opening their doors
Fiji has announced that it will begin reopening to tourists from around the world when it hits an 80% vaccination rate, which means either November or December of 2021. (Either way, it's not too early to start planning New Year's Eve in the South Pacific).
Also reopening is Montserrat, the underrated Caribbean island and overseas British territory. To get there, you'll need to fly to a neighboring island like Antigua or Guadeloupe and catch a ferry or a short commuter flight.
Bonus: if you fall in love with it, Montserrat is offering a remote-worker program amid the pandemic.
The Langkawi islands in Malaysia started a gradual reopening on September 16. For now, these scenic islands will only be open to domestic tourists, but keep your fingers crossed, because this is a dry run for eventually allowing international travelers to join them.
10. New York City vaccine passport rules have kicked in
The Big Apple's "Key to NYC" vaccine passport program is now in effect.
CNN's Eric Levenson explains the logistics: "Businesses are now required to check the vaccination status of all staff and customers 12 and older, or they will be subject to fines. Residents can show proof of vaccination in the form of a CDC vaccination card, NYC vaccination record, the New York state Excelsior Pass or the NYC Covid Safe App."
One sweetener for travelers is the opportunity to visit Summit One Vanderbilt, New York's latest observation deck, which opens on October 21.
The Midtown attraction has an all-glass elevator that soars 1,200 feet over the city and an immersive art installation entitled "Air."
11. South African Airways returning this month
After being battered by the pandemic, South Africa is slowly loosening its restrictions.
Gathering sizes can increase from 250 to 500, and the national curfew has moved from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m.
The country is considering a vaccine passport, but the move strikes many as too similar to the old apartheid-era passes that Black South Africans were forced to carry.
Meanwhile, national carrier South African Airways will resume flights on September 23 after a 16-month shutdown.