Australia, Canada and the autonomous Portuguese island of Madeira have announced changes to their respective rules for international travellers.
The changes reflect the changeable and varying pandemic situation globally, which has seen countries such as Japan ease restrictions as many European nations introduce new anti-Covid measures to combat rising cases.
Australia eases Covid requirements for workers and visa holders
The federal government of Australia will relax its Covid border restrictions from 1 December, to allow more people to enter the country without needing to apply for an exemption.
The new rules will apply to fully vaccinated skilled workers and students, as well as humanitarian, working holiday maker and provisional family visa holders.
Visitors to the country which fall under these categories must provide proof of their vaccination status, as well as a negative PCR result taken within three days of departure.
Fully vaccinated citizens from Japan and South Korea who hold a valid Australian visa will also be able to enter participating states from their home country without needing to quarantine.
The move follows efforts by the Australian government to reopen its borders on 1 November to allow Australian citizens and certain family members to re-enter the country, following 18 months of border closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.
However, travellers may also have to abide by additional quarantine requirements specific to whatever state or territory they arrive in, as well as any that they plan to visit, which the Australian government warns may change at short notice.
Due to Australia’s federal system of government, while the federal government may ease border policies across the nation, it is up to individual states and territories to define how and whether they permit both visitors from other states and international travellers. Consequently, while the states of Victoria and New South Wales, as well as the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) offer quarantine-free entry for vaccinated travellers, other states remain more cautious until their own vaccination rates improve.
Canada to require full vaccination for most travellers
Canada’s federal government has also announced new Covid border measures, which will come into force from 30 November, which will require most travellers to be fully vaccinated upon arrival in the country.
Under the new measures, several groups will be exempt from the requirement for a grace period ending on 15 January 2022. Exempt groups include:
- Individuals over 18 travelling to reunite with family
- International students over 18 years old
- Professional and amateur athletes and their support staff
- Individuals with a valid work permit, including temporary foreign workers outside of agricultural and food processing
- Most essential service providers, including truck drivers, emergency services and marine researchers
- National interest exemptions.
During the grace period, individuals from the specified exempt groups can continue to enter the country if unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, as well as take a connecting flight to their destination that is due to depart within 24 hours of the departure time of their flight to enter Canada.
However, unvaccinated or partially vaccinated travellers eligible to enter Canada will still be required to provide proof of a negative molecular Covid test taken within 72 hours of their flight’s initial departure or arrival at the land border, or a positive test result taken within 10 and 180 days of arrival; complete another test on arrival, as well as a further test on day eight of their visit; and quarantine for 14 days in a suitable place.
Following the end of the grace period, individuals previously covered by the exemption will not be allowed to take a plane or train beyond their original destination, except to depart Canada before 28 February.
Under the new measures, vaccinated Canadian citizens, permanent residents or individuals registered under the Indian Act who leave and re-enter the country within 72 hours will also no longer be required to provide a pre-entry negative test result. However, individuals who qualify will be required to provide evidence that they have been out of the country for less than 72 hours.
The exemption will also apply to individuals who are unvaccinated due to medical exemption and unvaccinated children under 12 who are accompanied by a vaccinated parent, guardian, or tutor.
The government will also expand its list of accepted vaccines for the purpose of entering Canada to include Sinopharm, Sinovac and COVAXIN.
Madeira tightens Covid rules
The Portuguese island of Madeira has tightened its Covid restrictions on 20 November, ahead of its peak winter season. While the popular holiday destination remains open to tourists, it has returned to a ‘state of contingency’, with the intention of avoiding the implementation of restrictions over Christmas and New Year’s celebrations.
New measures include the return of mandatory face masks for all open and closed public spaces, and businesses and events such as shops, public transport, clinics, places of worship, sports and cultural events will require customers to present vaccination certification or a negative rapid antigen test.
From 27 November, individuals will be required to provide both a negative test result and vaccine certification.
The measures do not apply to children under 12, or those who are medically exempt from vaccination.
Existing rules also require international travellers visiting the island to produce a negative lateral flow test conducted within 48 hours of their arrival.