The US Department of State is asking American tourists to prepare for any potential interruptions to their foreign excursions by having “contingency plans” in place as governments around the world battle with the fast spread of the Omicron strain of COVID-19.
“US citizens who wish to travel internationally should be aware that they may encounter unforeseen problems connected to COVID-19 as they seek to return to the US or travel from one foreign place to another,” the Department stated in its latest advice. “US citizens who wish to travel overseas should make contingency preparations, since they may be required to stay in a foreign country longer than intended, at their own expense,” the report continued.
Travelers should also get foreign travel insurance that includes coverage for COVID-related trip cancellation and medical benefits, according to the Department.
Why Do Americans Require a Contingency Plan While Traveling Internationally?
Thousands of flights have been canceled as a result of Omicron-related staff shortages and winter weather. According to aviation data tracker FlightAware, some 1,328 flights into and out of the US were canceled and over 1,694 flights were delayed by Tuesday afternoon, adding to what has already been a chaotic winter holiday travel time. From Christmas Eve to Monday, the airline sector has canceled almost 18,500 flights, according to FlightAware.
Flights aren’t the only challenge. Due to increased border controls in some countries, US tourists face additional limitations while going overseas. The French government said on Sunday that American tourists who have not got the full recommended vaccine dosage would be subject to quarantine for ten days once they arrive in France.
In recent weeks, Italy toughened entrance requirements for unvaccinated travelers, while Thailand increased its quarantine requirements for all Americans, regardless of immunization status. Meanwhile, the Netherlands remains in lockdown, and Morocco’s borders have been blocked.
Because limits change often across the world, travelers are advised to check the most recent recommendations in the place they are traveling on a regular basis to avoid last-minute problems.
Countries are experiencing antigen test shortages as demand for testing rises as Omicron spreads, posing another possible impediment for international travel. All overseas arrivals are required by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to submit a negative COVID-19 result from a test done no more than one day prior to boarding their trip. Due to dwindling resources, it is now suggested that passengers schedule their COVID-19 tests for the return trip home as soon as possible to prevent extra delays, since people may be denied boarding without documentation of a negative result.
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“US citizens planning to travel abroad or who are presently abroad and intend to return to the United States should also contact their airline for particular information on testing requirements for travelers,” the State Department stated. “To implement the CDC’s testing requirement, airlines may develop and alter their own specialized rules.”
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