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The vaccine's here, so where can I holiday quarantine-free?

Inoculation for Covid-19 is being rolled out at warp speed in some areas of the world. But how has a raft of vaccination options affected international travel?


Holiday makers enjoying Dubai Marina.

Dubai opened in summer 2020 allowing entry with a negative Covid test. Requirements have changed slightly since then, all travellers are now required to take a Covid test within 96 hours of departure rather than on arrival.

Dubai-based airline Emirates has also launched a vaccine passport in partnership with the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The IATA travel pass, which comes in the form of a mobile app and enables travellers to create a digital passport by uploading pre-travel Covid tests or vaccination certificates to meet the requirements of the destination country.

Emirates plans to start the first phase of the trial in Dubai from April. Travellers to Dubai will be able to share their Covid health information with Emirates prior to arriving at the airport.


The kingdom of Jordan is now open to all countries, bar the UK.

Although it has no specific ruling for vaccinated travellers, Jordan has nevertheless dropped its quarantine requirements for all arrivals, apart from those from the UK.

To travel to the kingdom, visitors are required to do nothing more than take a PCR test within three days of departure and take a second test on arrival at a cost of US$40. Test results are delivered by SMS within 24-hours and visitors aren’t required to wait at the airport. Children under five years are exempt from testing.

Guests must also complete a form online before departure and have health insurance cover, including coronavirus treatment, for the duration of their stay.

Most hotels in Jordan reopened in September. The majority of tourist destinations are accessible with social distancing measures in place. Public swimming pools, gyms, cafes and restaurants have opened and cinemas, entertainment venues and children’s play areas are expected to open in March.


The Maldives has been welcoming guests since last summer.

Following a successful reopening to international visitors last summer, the Maldives has now welcomed more than 50,000 guests to its idyllic islands.

With resorts scattered across the country’s more than one thousand coral islands, the Maldives is ideally suited for physical distancing.

In September the country was awarded the world’s first global safety and hygiene stamp for travel and tourism, endorsed by the World Travel and Tourism Council.

The Maldives is currently open to all nationalities and visitors are granted a 30-day, free on-arrival visa with a confirmed booking at any registered tourist facility in the country.

Holiday makers must complete an online health declaration within 24-hours of departure and present a negative Covid test result taken within 96 hours of departure. Travellers are encouraged to install the TraceEkee app.

The Maldives has also launched Covid-19 travel insurance, Allied Inbound, which covers medical charges, emergency medical transport charges and internet charges in case of a positive diagnosis. Visitors should apply for the plan prior to their arrival via the Inbound Allied website.


Phuket is aiming to reopen in October.

The Thai holiday island has given up waiting for a national vaccine programme to unroll and is now taking matters into its own hands with a self-funded inoculation programme.

The plan is to reopen the island quarantine-free in the autumn to inoculated holiday makers under the ‘Phuket First October’ plan.

Attempts to attract tourists back to Thailand last year under a Special Tourist Visa have been met with a lukewarm response, mainly because the 14-day quarantine still stands. ‘Sweeteners’ including allowing quarantiners to play golf during their 14-day isolation have not improved take-up.

Local businesses and the Phuket Chamber of Commerce are now hoping to fund the inoculation of 70% of the island’s residents to achieve herd immunity and create a safe reopening environment for vaccinated overseas guests.


The water's welcoming at Anse Georgette Beach, Seychelles (photo courtesy Torsten Dickmann).

The Seychelles has been one of the first countries in the world to accept visitors who have had a Covid-19 vaccination.

Travellers from an approved list of countries or flying in via private jet are also able to skip quarantine.

The Indian Ocean idyll announced its updated travel guidelines shortly after unveiling its immunisation campaign, which aims to inoculate 70% of residents aged over 18 by mid-March. It hopes to be the first country in the world to vaccinate the majority of its adult population.

The Seychelles is allowing quarantine-free entry to holiday makers who have received both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine. Travellers must wait two weeks after their final jab and must also be able to provide proof of vaccination from their home country’s health authorities. Travellers are also required to have a Covid test within 72 hours of departure.

It’s hoped that by the end of March, when the country has hit its immunisation target, all international visitors will be allowed to enter.

Sri Lanka

The wild beaches of Sri Lanka are now open to most tourists.

Sri Lanka reopened to tourists in late January following a pilot visit by a group of 1,700 Ukranians in December to test the country’s Covid-19 protocols.

Visitors must take a Covid test within four days of departure and another on arrival. Two further tests must be taken for a seven-day test and three tests for holidays longer than a week.

Visitors must stay in one of 55 designated hotels and will be accompanied by officials when visiting approved tourist sites. They will also be required to pay US$12 for insurance to cover up to US$50,000 in Covid-related medical costs. If a visitor tests positive at any point during their trip, they will be required to isolate in their hotel room and will be transferred to hospital if necessary.

However, there is no quarantine, no minimum number of days required for a stay and visitors are free to use all hotel facilities.

There are currently no exceptions for visitors who have been vaccinated.

However, visitors who have spent time in the UK within two weeks of arrival are banned from entering Sri Lanka.


Estonia is open to those who have had Covid (photo courtesy Julius Jansson Unsplash).

Estonia began offering quarantine exemption to recovered Covid patients on February 1. The country is lifting its ten-day quarantine for arrivals who tested positive for Covid and recovered within the last six months. A quarantine exemption is also available to travellers who have had a Covid vaccination within the last six months.

Travellers need to provide a doctor’s certificate stating they have recovered from Covid-19, as well as full details of a negative test, such as where it was taken and by whom.

According to preliminary research results carried out between June and November last year by Public Health England, prior infection was found to provide up to 83% protection against reinfection. It also provided 94% protection against symptomatic Covid-19 for at least five months. In other words, protection that is similar to vaccination.


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