Countries relaxing COVID travel restrictions


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Countries across the globe are continuing to relax international travel restrictions related to COVID with the European Union dropping its mask mandate for air travelers starting next week.

And COVID travel warnings are being dropped, too. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month removed all the remaining countries on its “Do Not Travel” list.

“More and more people are once again traveling to destinations around the world and enjoying all that comes with travel,” the agency said Thursday in a statement shared by spokesperson Tom Skinner.

While many warnings and restrictions around the world have been relaxed, the CDC said that traveling can still increase the risk of exposure to the virus.

“The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and CDC are working with the White House and other federal partners to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the American public while returning to more normal routines safely,” the CDC continued. “Travel requirements are made using the best available science.”

Mask rules: Where are masks still required now that the mask mandate has been lifted?

Canada: Is easing entry requirements for some international travelers

New Zealand opening up to all tourists by July

New Zealand will reopen its borders to tourists from all countries by July, allow back cruise ships and make it easier for skilled workers to immigrate as it looks outward to the world again following the COVID-19 pandemic, the government said Wednesday.

New Zealand has been slowly reopening, first to Australians last month and then to tourists from the U.S., Britain and more than 50 other countries earlier this month. Wednesday’s announcement will allow tourists from China, India and other countries to come starting July 31.

The government said it also planned to end the need for people to get predeparture COVID-19 tests by the end of July.

Post-pandemic travel: Is it OK to ask another passenger’s vaccine status or request they mask up?

The European Union: Is dropping its mask mandate for airplanes, airports starting next week

Israel to drop arrival testing requirement for US visitors

Starting May 20, all U.S. travelers arriving to Israel by plane will no longer have to take a PCR test upon arrival and will not have to quarantine. 

That said, pre-departure testing will remain a requirement as the ease in restrictions will allow for even more visitors to enjoy our country.

Laos reopens to international visitors after more than 2 years

The landlocked Southeast Asian nation of Laos reopened to tourists and other visitors on Monday, more than two years after it imposed tight restrictions to fight the coronavirus.

Thipphakone Chanthavongsa, head of the government’s agency for controlling COVID-19, announced on Saturday the reopening date, the last in a three-phase plan, state news agency KPL reported. She said vaccination certificates or virus tests will still be required for Lao citizens and foreigners entering the country.

Travelers 12 years of age or older without vaccination certificates must be able to show negative ATK tests taken within 48 hours of departure for Laos.

As part of the easing of restrictions, entertainment venues including karaoke parlors will be able to reopen, but must comply with COVID-19 control regulations. All border crossings were reopened.

Myanmar issuing tourist visas

Myanmar announced Thursday it will resume issuing visas for visitors in an effort to help its moribund tourism industry, devastated by the coronavirus pandemic and violent political unrest.

Starting on Sunday, tourist “e-Visas” will be provided online in a move also intended to harmonize tourism with neighboring countries, according to a government notice in the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper.

Visitors need a certificate of vaccination, negative results from a COVID-19 RT-PCR test taken shortly before their flight and a travel insurance policy. They must also take an ATK rapid test after arrival.

Myanmar on April 1 had already resumed issuing business visas, and on April 17 dropped a ban on international commercial flights. It had stopped issuing visas and suspended flight arrivals in March 2020.

The Czech Republic eases all travel restrictions, too

Last month, the Czech Republic’s Ministry of Health eased travel protocols for international visitors and Czech citizens.

“There are no longer any coronavirus restrictions for entry into the Czech Republic,” CzechTourism said on its website April 14.

Jamaica relaxed some restrictions in April

Jamaica rolled back its COVID-19 entry restrictions in April with hoping that easier entry would attract more tourists. 

The Jamaica Tourist Board announced last month that the Caribbean island would drop its indoor mask mandate and its pre-departure PCR COVID-19 testing requirement starting.

Dreaming of a Caribbean getaway? Here are the COVID entry restrictions for popular islands

As you consider travel, consider any restrictions and recommendations

While you plan travel, even as restrictions easel the CDC recommends all travelers stay up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines and “follow all domestic and international travel requirements and recommendations.”

And, each week, the health agency updates its Travel Health Notices to alert travelers. 

In addition, CDC’s COVID-19 Travel Health Notices are updated each week to alert travelers of the COVID-19 situation in international destinations and advise them on how to protect themselves before, during, and after travel.

Contributing: Bailey Schulz, USA TODAY, and The Associated Press



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Anguilla Relaxing Entry Protocols for Vaccinated Visitors


Anguilla is easing traveler entry protocols by waiving online travel authorization requirements for fully vaccinated travelers ages 18 and over, said Anguilla Tourist Board officials in a statement.

Citing new Ministry of Health guidelines issued in accordance with the country’s “evolving Covid-19 exit strategy,” effective April 1 vaccinated travelers are no longer required to apply for permission to enter Anguilla via the IvisitAnguilla.com travel portal.

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Visitors arriving in Anguilla will still be required to present evidence of their Covid immunization status with an approved vaccine and proof of a negative RT-PCR Covid-19 test result obtained within three days of travel or a rapid antigen test taken within two days of travel.

Additionally, Anguilla will eliminate arrival testing for visitors who have been fully vaccinated within the last six months, and for persons who’ve received a booster dose where completion of the primary, full vaccination series occurred six months or more prior to arrival. A valid negative test result must be presented prior to arrival, ATB officials said.

Vaccinated adults and minors who received a full primary course more than six months prior to arrival but have not received a booster dose are still considered fully vaccinated and will not need to apply for entry via the Anguilla portal. ATB officials say such visitors will be subject to testing on arrival for a $50 per person fee. These travelers must also present a negative Covid-19 test result prior to arrival.

Travelers arriving in Anguilla without appropriate documentation (including proof of vaccination and test results) will be required to return to their country of origin. Guests who are unable to return immediately will be required to complete arrival and exit tests, and quarantine for five days at their own expense.

Each quarantine visitor will be charged a fee of $200 in addition to any fines for unapproved entry. Unvaccinated visitors who are granted a medical exemption will be required to apply for entry on the Anguilla portal, test on arrival, quarantine for five days and receive a negative test result to exit quarantine as well as pay a $100 per-person fee.

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Where to Stay in Laguna Beach for a Relaxing Vacation




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Tips for hiking, mountain-biking or relaxing in Irish forests this summer


You could say we’ve been branching out. Over the past year, Ireland’s forests have been gifting us a lockdown lease of life; breathing a much-needed dose of dúlra and solace into our daily grinds. From nature trails with the kids or bonding time with our dogs, to pushing through those 5Ks, Ireland’s woods have become our natural wellness escapes. We’ve watched red squirrels forage, seen buzzards soar, and enjoyed the real-life page shift of Ireland’s nature calendar as wild garlic flourished; and then bluebells; and later, conkers. But as we’ve grown to incorporate woodlands into our daily lives, could these open-air amenities become more rooted into our national getaway psyche. Could forest breaks become the new coastal getaways. And yes, could beech become the new beach?

This week, Coillte revealed that in 2020, 2.2 million of us laid tracks in one of their 260 recreational woods located across the country. Visitors to the forests of the Dublin Mountains doubled, Curraghchase Park in Limerick saw its numbers triple, while in West Cork, Gougane Barra Forest Park saw numbers jump from 19,000 to 36,000. “We’re delighted so many people are using their local forests more during this difficult and prolonged Covid lockdown,” said Imelda Hurley, Coillte’s CEO. “Healthy forests are not only beautiful to look at but provide a much-needed physical and mental wellness boost.”

But enjoying leisure time (not to mention the idea of overnighting) in an Irish forest may not be as accessible as you think, with Ireland falling well behind our EU neighbours in terms of tree coverage and as a consequence, tourism amenities. While historically shrouded in native oaks, Ireland dipped to just 1% forestry in the 1920s; we’re up to 11% a century later. That figure still sees us lagging behind on the tree table with both Finland and Sweden sitting at about 70%. However, the Irish Government has ambitious plans to plant 440 million trees by 2040; that’s about 8000 hectares (or 20,000 acres in old money) of woodland per year. With both reforestation and afforestation, plus a focus on embracing native species versus more biodiversity-sapping spruce plantations, Ireland’s forest fortunes now look a little more budding.

How can this all impact Ireland’s tourism industry? While there are some exceptions, like Lough Key Forest Park in Roscommon and more recently Cabu by the Lakes in Cavan, there has never been a massive cabin culture in Ireland, nor myriad options to steal away to forests for a wilderness weekend. But this new appreciation of our woodlands together with green initiatives could see Ireland’s forests becoming a sustainable tourism niche for the future. Who knows? Maybe the next generation of Irish tourists will see a Center Parcs in every county or be able to spot a re-introduced wolf in the oak forests of Kerry? From these little acorns, a new niche of woodland tourism can surely grow. But while you wait for those saplings to take hold, here are three all-budget suggestions to get you inspired for your forest fix this summer.

Down demesne

 The castle with canoists on the lake

The castle with canoists on the lake

Castlewellan Forest Park in County Down was one of my travel revelations for 2020. The 460-hectare forested estate, located on the foothills of the Mourne mountains is backdropped by a stunning castle, a postcard lake, as well as one of Europe’s most significant arboretums. And best of all, you can overnight at Castlewellan’s fully serviced campsite. Once pitched up, enjoy a range of outdoor pursuits such as kayaking and e-biking, with super facilities here giving the experience a very well-oiled feel. Pitching rates from €17 per night; book via nidirect.gov.uk

Retreat in Gougane

On my list this summer is another trip to Gougane Barra Forest Park — one of Cork’s true wild highlights, often bypassed by tourists veering for the coast. A hiker’s heaven, the park features a number of trails, from short woodland walks to the more strenuous Slí na Sléibhe route, which bags some incredible mountain views. To stay, Gougane Barra Hotel, overlooking that gorgeous lake and chapel, offers an almost monastic sense of retreat — with luxury — while lunch and dinner menus are a mouth-watering hat-tip to locally sourced produce. From €150 per night; gouganebarrahotel.com

Ballyhoura wilds

The Ballyhoura region and the Munster Vales have been emerging tourism brands in recent years, but the great outdoors movement may see their popularity going up a gear this year. Nestled within the region’s foothills and forests, Ballyhoura Mountain Lodges remain something of a secret; their highly-rated cabins are sensitively designed with above par interiors and great views framing nature. Beyond them, you can enjoy forest loops, Ireland’s longest mountain biking trails, and regional attractions from Ballyhass Lakes to Limerick’s soon-to-launch greenway. Also dog-friendly. Summer rates from about €700 per week; ballyhouramountainlodges.ie



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Make vaccination focus, not relaxing travel rules | News, Sports, Jobs



Last Friday, Lt. Gov. Josh Green sent a proposal to Gov. David Ige and Hawaii’s mayors urging them to eradicate our pre-travel testing program for those who have been vaccinated against COVID, essentially providing a vaccine passport to freely travel to Hawaii.

Importantly, those who are vaccinated would no longer need to provide proof of a negative COVID test in order to travel to and within Hawaii. Green claims that those who are vaccinated would have sterilization immunity, meaning they are not just immune to the negative effects of COVID, but they are also unable to be carriers of the virus and as a consequence they could not spread it to other people.

This is a bold claim for a doctor to be making, yet, Green claims he is basing this policy decision on science. If this is true, then show us the science.

The truth is that there is no definitive scientific evidence documenting sterilization immunity with these new vaccines. If anything, the opposite is true.

Instead of spending so much time worrying about reopening the island, Green should be laser-focused on vaccinating our local population. Our state is far behind other states in vaccinations, and while most states have started vaccinating those who are 65 and older, Hawaii is just beginning to vaccinate those who are 75 and older. As our country is on the verge of 500,000 deaths, new variants of the virus which are more transmissible and more deadly infect the U.S. at ever-growing rates.

Brooke Feinstein

Wailea




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These 5 tricks will help make it more relaxing


Barbara Eisner Bayer, The Motley Fool
Published 7:00 a.m. ET Dec. 25, 2020

How to enjoy a worry-free retirement.

You’ve probably spent a good portion of your life planning for (and perhaps worrying about) retirement. But once you’re actually there, will you be able to enjoy it?

According to the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory, retirement ranks No. 10 in a list of the top 43 stressors – and that’s after death, divorce, and going to jail. You certainly didn’t work that hard all your life, only to wind up overwhelmed in your senior years and unable to enjoy them.

Retirement doesn’t have to be a stressful time, especially if you’ve developed a financial plan. But even so, you still may be feeling stress, which can undermine your ability to enjoy.

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Don’t worry: Here are four tricks that will guarantee you’ll have a more relaxing retirement.

1. Fill your portfolio with dividend-paying stocks

How can retirees relax when almost half of them are worried about running out of money? It’s important to develop a plan to continuously have steady income, no matter what’s happening in the stock market.

The best way to do this is by filling your retirement portfolio with equities that pay dividends. Depending on the company you invest in, you can receive payments monthly, quarterly, or yearly. Consider investing in Dividend Aristocrats, companies in the S&P 500 index that have paid dividends consecutively for 25 years. This way, you won’t have to touch the principal in your retirement accounts, or at the very least, you’ll reduce the amount of money you need to withdraw each month.

If you don’t want to bother picking individual Aristocrats, try investing in an exchange-traded fund (ETF) that holds all of them, like the ProShares Dividend Aristocrat ETF. Then, you can enjoy your time at the beach while the dividends find their way into your brokerage account.

2. Put your finances on autopilot

Another huge stressor both in and out of retirement is remembering to pay your bills on time. This is especially true for retirees who travel internationally and don’t always have access to their bills. One way to combat this challenge is by setting up automatic payments. Almost every company now offers this option – all you need to do is go to their websites and enroll.

This also holds true for the monthly withdrawals you make that provide income. Arrange to have a certain amount of money transferred to your account on a specific day every month. This way, you’ll know when money will be deposited and can arrange to make your automatic bill withdrawals after that date.

3. Consolidate your accounts

During your working years, you may have had your retirement accounts with different companies. Perhaps your 401(k) was with one brokerage house, your investment accounts were with another, and your personal and checking accounts were with a different bank entirely. Now that you’ve stopped working, it would be much easier to bring all your accounts together so that you can manage them easily.

Most large brokers, like Charles Schwaband Fidelity, provide access to various banking services in addition to investing, including checking and savings, money market accounts, and CDs. Some even offer mortgages. And many offer money management services if you’re not inclined to handle investing yourself. In any case, having all your money under one roof will give you the free time to work on your shell collection – finally! – if you’re so inclined.

4. Have fun!

What’s the most important trick to having a relaxing retirement? Remember to have a good time. After all, you’ve worked hard all these years and saved up an abundant nest egg so that you can enjoy life without worrying about where your next dollar is coming from.

It’s time to realize all the dreams on your bucket list and explore everything you’ve never had time to explore before. You’ve earned it … now go out and enjoy.

Barbara Eisner Bayer has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of ProShares S&P 500 Aristocrats ETF. The Motley Fool recommends Charles Schwab. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

The Motley Fool is a USA TODAY content partner offering financial news, analysis and commentary designed to help people take control of their financial lives. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.

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