Updated International Travel Restrictions Due To Omicron Variant

    Updated on: 11 Aug 2022


    Since the year 2020, the world has been grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic. Many variants have come up in the last two years that have completely changed the way we live our lives, travel, work, and even the way we study. Out of all the aspects, travelling is the worst affected one and with every new variant, there are new rules set out by the countries that change the way people travel. People travelling abroad have to make amends so that they don't end up being the sufferers of last time changes. Now that new variants are surfacing, countries are making separate regulations for travel and other immigration-related aspects. 

    The recent variant in the lineup is the omicron variant which has raised specific concerns about its spread, and, thus, countries are changing the travel related rules. In fact, many countries have stopped flights from those countries that are at high risk, and one must see all the regulations put forward by governments individually. So now, we will focus on the new set of travel-related rules that are in force after this new variant.

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    Country-Specific Travel Restrictions Due To Omicron

    USA Travel Restrictions 

    In light of the new variant, the American administration has decided to put eight countries from the African continent into the travel ban list, which effectively started from 6th December. Even people from other countries will have to go through new regulations that have come into force. The US government has changed the testing time frame, and now, irrespective of the nationality or vaccination status, people coming to the United States have to get their covid report within one day of the departure to the US. The requirement for full vaccination is still a condition, and there is no change to it. One of the noteworthy aspects of these new regulations is that they only hold for add Travellers, not for land and seaport arrivals. The new rules also hold for and vaccinated Americans and legal permanent residents of the United States.

    UK Travel Restrictions

    In light of the new variant, each of us is somewhat worried as to what the new set of regulations that other countries might put forward. The UK has faced a considerable uprising in the COVID cases, and the Omicron variant has raised the awareness level of the authorities, leading to a new set of travel restrictions. But now that the cases have somewhat reached a new high, the UK Health Secretary in the official statement has said that “Now that there is community transmission of Omicron in the UK and Omicron has spread so widely across the world, the travel red list is now less effective in slowing the incursion of Omicron from abroad,”. As per the older regulations that came after the rise in the COVID cases in the UK, Britain mandated either a PCR or a rapid lateral flow test a maximum of 48 hours before departure. So, this is something that the students or any professional must bear in mind before moving ahead with their plans to travel to the UK. 

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    Australia Travel Restrictions

    Australia is perhaps the only major country in the world that has decided to go ahead with its decision to open up borders for immigrants. Amid the rising concern of the Omicron variant, countries across the globe have started closing their borders again. But going contrary to the flow, the Australian government has brought good news for students, skilled migrants, and businesspersons by allowing them entry to the country. The authorities took around two weeks to reach a conclusion. The Australian PM Scott Morrison told radio station 4BC, "We're going to live with this virus, and we're not going to let it drag us back to where we've been. We’ve got one of the highest vaccination rates, which means we can fight this thing. We don't have to surrender to it."
    As per the latest guidelines issued by the Australian Government Chief Medical Officer, all people travelling to Australia must furnish a negative PCR test report within three days of travel. People coming from outside Australia will also have to complete Australian traveller declaration forms declaring their vaccination status and confirming that they are aware of state and territory public health requirements. All these measures must be followed strictly. The Australian authorities said in the statement that their vaccination rate is at one of the highest in the world, thus opening up the border was a well-thought decision. Australia’s education sector contributes USD25 billion per year, so it was imperative that learning to live with the virus is the sole way out, as was highlighted by the Australian PM. 

    Canada Travel Restrictions

    There is no travel ban for people from outside of Canada, barring a few African countries. The Canadian PM proposed the move, but provincial governments overwhelmingly rejected it. Students, Skilled Migrants, Businesspersons from India are allowed to enter Canada if they have taken both doses of either Covishield or Covaxin at least fourteen days prior to the date of travel to Canada. But anyone who has stayed or transited from Botswana, Egypt, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
    The people travelling to Canada must ensure a few things and need a pre-entry test. All foreign nationals above the age of 5 have to go through the pre-entry test. To enter Canada, one must furnish proof of a COVID-19 negative molecular test result or proof of a previous positive test result taken between 14 and 180 days ago (starting January 15, 2022, between 10 and 180 days ago). People travelling to Canada from India must take the molecular test within 18 hours of scheduled departure at the Delhi Airport from Genestrings Laboratory. One needs to take the negative test report for indirect flights from India within 72 hours of the scheduled departure to Canada. 

    Ireland Travel Restrictions

    Ireland hasn’t yet restricted travellers from any country, barring the scheduled countries that are at most risk from the Omicron variant. The people from India are allowed to visit Ireland, but certain regulations must be followed to ensure safety in the midst of rising risks from the new variant. People who want to go to Ireland must have a negative PCR report that shouldn’t be older than 72 hours from India’s scheduled departure. And, in case if someone has taken the antigen test, then it shouldn’t be older than 48 hours before the scheduled departure from India. On top of all, the person travelling to Ireland must be fully vaccinated. Those who aren’t vaccinated must have the negative PCR report 72 hours before the scheduled departure from India. There is no requirement of home quarantine for international passengers. The only thing one has to take care of is the negative PCR test, failing which the passenger will have to compulsory undergo a home quarantine and get the negative PCR test within 36 hours of their arrival. Again failing to take the PCR test, there is a mandatory ten-day home quarantine. 

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    New Zealand Travel Restrictions

    New Zealand is perhaps one of the few countries globally with stringent travel measures. As of now, there is only one confirmed case of the Omicron variant, but students aren’t allowed as of now. Students from across the globe are waiting for the government of New Zealand to ease travel restrictions, and the government is also optimistic about opening up the borders from April 2022. If the COVID cases remain low and the new variant doesn’t do much harm, then the chances are very likely that students will be able to go to New Zealand to complete their course. But as of now, the borders are all closed, and unless there is a critical need to travel, the visas aren’t getting issued for international passengers. 

    Germany Travel Restrictions

    Travel restrictions don’t apply to Indian citizens. There is no bar for Indian citizens to travel to Germany. Travel restrictions are only applicable to citizens from countries that are put at high risk, and India is out of that list from September 2021. There are certain requirements for international passengers, and they must fulfil those before entering German territory. Anyone travelling to Germany must have:

    • A negative COVID-19 test result or
    • Proof of a full COVID-19 vaccination or
    • Proof of recovery from an infection.

    This proof must be with everyone travelling to Germany from India. The proof must be produced to the airline authorities prior to the departure. The documents related to vaccination must have the following as per the German mission in India:

    • The personal data of the vaccinated person (at least family name, first name and date of birth or Passport/ID-Card-no.),
    • Date of vaccination, number of vaccinations,
    • Name of the vaccine,
    • Name of disease vaccinated against,
    • Written documentation or electronic confirmation with a qualified electronic signature or a qualified electronic seal from the person responsible for administering the vaccine; if such information is not possible for administrative reasons, the confirmation provided by the person/institution responsible should appropriately be made clear, specifically through the use of a stamp or a state symbol.

    There are no quarantine regulations for Indian citizens as it is no longer on the list of high-risk countries. 

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    France Travel Restrictions

    France has put forward the list of countries based on the nature of the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The countries are categorised into Green (minimum or no risk), Orange List (countries/territories where there is an active circulation of the virus in controlled proportions.), red list (countries/territories where active virus circulation is observed with the presence of variants of concern.), scarlet red list (where the circulation of the virus is particularly active and/or a variant is likely to present a risk of increased transmissibility or immune escape). Based on this classification, one can assess the chances of entering French territory. India is placed in the orange list, so we will put the focus on this list and elaborate on the requirements of travelling to France. 

    People who are fully vaccinated 

    • Don’t have to prove the necessity of proving the “pressing grounds of travel.”
    • They have to give a Negative antigen or PCR test <48h. This is mandatory before boarding the flight. 
    • A Random antigen or PCR test may be administered. This is also mandatory and will be done after arrival. 
    • There are no quarantine related regulations for people travelling from India. 

    People who aren’t fully vaccinated 

    • Have to prove the “pressing grounds of travel compulsorily”. It can be checked on the French foreign ministry website. 
    • They have to give a Negative antigen or PCR test < 48h. This is mandatory before boarding the flight. 
    • A random antigen or PCR test may be administered. This is also mandatory and will be done after arrival. 
    • A seven-day self-isolation and end-of-period test. This is also mandatory. 

     

    All these regulations keep on changing, so please check the details before finalising an international trip to any of these countries. It is an evolving situation wherein governments relax and tighten the norms as per the prevailing situation. So, one must confirm with the authorities at the embassy or consulate for the latest developments related to travel restrictions. As more details will surface about the Omicron variant, the situation might change. 

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