New strains of the coronavirus are prompting strict new rules for international travel, further complicating what was already a nearly impossible feat.
Global air traffic is severely depressed, in large part due to a maze of ever-changing travel rules around the world. International passenger demand in November was down 88% from year-earlier levels, according to the latest figures from the International Air Transport Association.
But as health officials worry that new coronavirus variants may be more contagious, more deadly or less responsive to vaccines, governments are taking measures ranging from outright bans on international flights to universal testing requirements in effort to contain further spread.
Jeffrey Ward, a travel adviser who helps people plan luxury trips, said the biggest fear for many travelers residing in the U.S is getting stuck abroad if they test positive for Covid-19, given new U.S. rules requiring passengers to test negative before boarding a flight. He has steered some toward Hawaii for their beach vacations instead of international destinations. The state requires a negative test to enter, but U.S. visitors won’t need a second test to return home.
“People are freaking out,” Mr. Ward said.
In the U.S., requirements that all passengers over 2 years old arriving from abroad test negative for Covid-19 went into effect Tuesday.