Updated 27 December 2021
The World Health Organization (WHO) has termed Omicron as ‘the new variant of concern’. It was first identified in South Africa, followed by other nations like the Netherlands, Canada, Germany, Britain and many other countries. Following the B.1.1.529 Omicron variant outbreak, several countries issued a fresh set of rules for travellers before and after entry into a specific country.
Here’s a list of countries that have taken different approaches in preventing the spread of this new variant.
Countries announcing travel restrictions to curb the spread of Omicron
The COVID-19 highly mutated variant Omicron is more transmissible as it has around 10 mutations and poses a high risk of a surge in the global infection rate.
Several countries have now implemented travel bans and other entry restrictions for international travellers as the fear that the variant resisting the existing vaccines is a matter of concern. Following is a list of a few countries that are imposing travel restrictions to slow down the spread of the virus.
Angola has closed off its borders to 7 south African countries to prevent the spread of the new variant. South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe international travellers cannot enter Angola until 5 January 2022.
Anyone who has travelled anywhere on the African continent in the last 14 days before their arrival to Argentina will need to take an antigen test and show proof of being fully vaccinated. They will also need to quarantine themselves for 14 days. Those who are not citizens or residents of Argentina will be required to prove they have health insurance that will cover Covid-19.
Incoming and outgoing flights to and from Australia have been suspended for 14 days to Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Those allowed to enter will still need to follow quarantine measures as stated by the Australian government.
Visas on arrival have been reintroduced only for citizens of eligible nationalities. Bahrains red listed countries have been replaced with mandatory pre-departure PCR testing. Currently entry to the Kingdom is permitted only to Bahraini citizens, residents, GCC citizens who don’t need visas, passengers eligible to obtain a visa on arrival, passengers with a valid eVisa, diplomats, military personnel, airline crew, or holders of official, service or UN Passports.
Brazil’s Presidential Chief of Staff Ciro Nogueira has said that all flights are currently suspended for inbound and outbound travel to 6 nations, including Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Any passenger who in the past 14 days has visited Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe are banned from entry into the country. Chile residents who have been in any of the affected territories will be subject to testing on arrival and a quarantine period of seven days.
China had already maintained stringent entry and exit restrictions and won’t be changing travel rules amid the Omicron variant outbreak.
Citizens of Denmark are not permitted to travel to Angola, Malawi, South Africa, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia. Citizens of Denmark who have stayed in any of the countries mentioned above within the last 10 days before entering Denmark are subject to mandatory COVID-19 testing and 10-day quarantine. Individuals can exit quarantine on day 6 after two negative PCR tests (on days 4 and 6) have been presented.
The Foreign Ministry of Denmark permits travellers without permanent residence in Denmark, provided they have a worthy purpose of travel. They will need to conduct a pre-departure PCR test taken a maximum of 72 hours before the time of entry and follow testing and quarantine measures.
Egypt has suspended direct flights from southern African countries, including South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini.
The southern African countries were already on Fiji’s “red list,” but now only Fijian citizens can enter the country if they have been to any red-listed nations. Citizens entering Fiji will need to self-isolate for 14 days and follow up with negative PCR tests taken on days 5 and 12. Fiji has also started offering quarantine-free travel to fully vaccinated tourists from Travel Partner countries.
France has halted all flights from South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini.UK travellers are also banned from travelling to France for touristic purposes and will instead be required to present a “compelling reason” to enter the country. Vacation or work-related travel from the UK is banned. However French residents and their families can still return to France from the UK. Additionally, all those travelling from the UK to France, irrespective of their vaccination status, must also show a negative PCR or lateral flow test taken within 24 hours. The travellers must also quarantine upon arrival in France for 48 hours, as they await a negative PCR test result. Travellers will have to register their place of isolation on a digital platform. For more details please check the certificate of international travel.
Germany has suspended all flights from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and the UK. Additionally, carriers such as airlines are banned from transporting British tourists to Germany. Only German citizens and residents, their partners and children, and transit passengers will be allowed to travel to the country from the UK. Anyone entering Germany from Britain will need a negative PCR test and is required to quarantine for 14 days, regardless of vaccination status. The ban is said to last until at least 3 January.
Only essential travel is now permitted from South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Mozambique, Eswatini, Zambia and Malawi due to the increased risk of the Omicron variant. Travellers who are permitted to enter from these countries into Greece will have to follow some additional requirements.
Another list of safe third countries has also been released from which travellers are permitted to enter Greece for non-essential purposes. The list includes Australia, Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Argentina, Bahrain, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei, Canada, China, Chile, Chinese Taipei, Israel, India, Japan, Jordan, Kosovo, Kuwait, Lebanon, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Mexico, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Oman, Qatar, Russia, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Korea, Singapore, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Uruguay, and the Vatican.
EU and Schengen Area nationals will also be eligible to travel to Greece.
Passengers with travel history in the last 21 days to Angola, Botswana, Ethiopia, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, United States of America, Zambia or Zimbabwe will be required to complete the first 7 nights quarantine at the HKSAR government facility at Penny Bay before proceeding to their designated quarantine hotel for the remaining 14 nights.
Fully vaccinated Hong Kong residents and fully vaccinated foreign domestic helpers who have stayed or transited through who have stayed in or transited through the ‘Category A’ countries, including Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bermuda, Botswana, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Estonia, Eswatini, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Gibraltar, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Korea, Kuwait, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Mozambique, Maldives, Namibia, Nepal, The Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, The Philippines, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Uganda, United Kingdom, the United States, Zambia or Zimbabwe Montenegro and Poland, (Egypt, Morocco, New Zealand and Qatar from 21 December) in the past 21 days are permitted to enter Hong Kong provided they can present a negative PCR test report taken within 72 hours before arrival into the country.
All travellers entering India and have a 14-day travel history to the ‘at-risk‘ countries including South Africa, Brazil, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Israel, Hong Kong, EU nations, or the UK will need to follow certain guidelines. Travellers will need to submit a self-declaration form to an online government portal. They will also need to take a pre-departure negative PCR test within 72 hours of travel and quarantine at home for seven days. Additionally, International passengers arriving in India from or transiting from “at-risk countries” are mandated to pre-book their on-arrival RT-PCR test.
Indonesia will not permit any international passenger who has spent time in the last 14 days in Angola, Malawi, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Mozambique, Eswatini Nigeria, Zambia, the UK, Denmark and Norway. Any Indonesian nationals who have travelled to those countries will need to quarantine for 14 days on arrival.
Ireland has imposed mandatory quarantine for all arrivals from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Irish residents arriving from these affected countries will, however, be allowed to isolate themselves at home.
Israel has added the United States, Canada, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Belgium, Morocco, Portugal, Switzerland and Turkey to its ‘no-fly’ list. Italy, the USA, Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Morocco, Portugal, Canada, Switzerland and Turkey will be defined as red countries starting midnight from Tuesday, December 21, 2021. Travel to and from the so-called “red countries” is expressly forbidden, unless permission is granted by a special committee. Those who return from these countries must remain in quarantine for seven days.
Entry into Italy is banned for people coming from or having stayed in or passed through, in the previous 14 days, South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, Eswatini, Malawi, Belgium, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Morocco, Portugal, Switzerland, Turkey, US and Canada. Travellers from Singapore will no longer be permitted to travel to Italy for non-essential purposes as the latter’s authorities have placed Singapore on the list of countries that are highly affected by the COVID-19 disease, also known as List E.
Japan has imposed a ban on new inbound flight reservations. Additionally, all foreigner entrants and residents arriving from ten African nations including Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe are banned from entry into the country.
Kuwait has stopped direct commercial flights from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zambia and Malawi. Citizens and residents of Kuwait have been advised against all travel, particularly to southern Africa. Kuwaiti nationals arriving from affected countries must spend 7 in quarantine, while non-Kuwaitis are not permitted to enter within 14 days of visiting the listed countries. Nationals of Israel are also not allowed to enter and transit.
Nationals of the Maldives or long-term visa holders arriving from South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Eswatini are permitted entry to the Maldives. They will need to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine with COVID-19 testing.
Tourists who have travelled or transited through the affected areas for more than 12 hours within the past 14 days will be temporarily denied entry into the country until additional measures are in place.
Malta has banned travel to and from South Africa, Nambia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and Zimbabwe.
The Kingdom of Morocco has stopped all incoming international flights starting 29 November.
The nation has released a new “traffic light system” that involves regions being put into red, orange and green zones depending on vaccination rates and Covid-19 cases. Additionally, the nation has also introduced fresh border measures for travellers from nine southern African nations including South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Seychelles, Malawi and Mozambique. Only citizens of New Zealand from these countries will be allowed to travel to the country and will have to stay in state quarantine for 14 days.
A flight ban on the Southern African region has been imposed by the country amidst the new Covid variant, Omicron. Anyone entering the Netherlands who has been to one of those countries is mandated to quarantine at a government-selected hotel.
Nepal has stopped issuing tourist visas to passengers from nine countries including South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, Malawi and Hong Kong.
The country’s health authorities have also recommended Nepalis not travel internationally unless it is an urgent situation. However, there are no outright bans in place for outgoing passengers.
Oman has previously suspended incoming flights from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Mozambique; but has now decided to revoke the ban while setting new entry measures in place. Travellers 18 and above must have received at least two doses of an approved Covid-19 vaccine enter Oman. In addition, they must present a negative PCR test issued within a maximum of 72 hours.
Pakistan has implemented its own travel ban on Croatia, Hungary, Netherlands, Ukraine, Ireland, Slovenia, Vietnam, Poland, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, Botswana, Namibia and Hong Kong. Inbound travel from these countries has been banned.
However, essential travel from the above-mentioned destinations would necessitate only when passengers can obtain an exemption certificate from the exemption committee
The Philippines has halted inbound flights from Andorra, France, Monaco, Northern Mariana Islands, Réunion, San Marino, South Africa, Switzerland. These countries will now be on the “red list” until 31 December. Travellers from countries not on the red list can enter but will need to follow quarantine measures depending on their vaccination status and COVID test results.
Non-Russians who have travelled in Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe are not allowed entry into the country. However, Russian nationals who have been to one of those countries, or in Hong Kong, mainland China, Israel or the United Kingdom, are permitted to enter only on the requirement that they take a PCR test upon arrival and self-isolate until they have a confirmed negative result.
Flights from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe are suspended.
Saudi Arabia has suspended all flights from fourteen countries due to the Omicron variant. These countries are South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Madagascar, Angola, Seychelles, Mauritius, Nigeria and the Comoros Islands. Anyone who has spent 14 days or more in the affected regions will be barred from entering the Kingdom. Saudi citizens who have visited the affected regions must quarantine for 5 days upon their arrival.
Singapore has now revoked the previously imposed flight ban on 10 African nations. Arrivals to Singapore from Botswana, Eswatini, Ghana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa and Zimbabwe will have to follow strict COVID-19 prevention measures. Passengers from the affected areas will have to undertake a PCR test two days before their departure to Singapore and another one on arrival. They will also be subject to a 10-day institutional quarantine. They will need to undergo another PCR test at the end of their quarantine period.
Additionally, to mitigate the spread of the omicron variant, Singapore Airlines will stop accepting new bookings for its Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) flight arrangements into Singapore, scheduled between 23 December 2021 to 20 January 2022.
Arrivals from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechia, Cyprus, Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Slovenia, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Iceland, Italy, Slovakia, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, and Sweden can travel to Spain as long as they meet all entry rules.
Persons who reach Spain from one of these 28 countries are permitted entry as long as they present a valid vaccination certificate that indicates that the holder has been fully immunised against the virus with one of the vaccines that Spain recognises for travel. Those who hold a recovery certificate are also permitted to enter Spain under facilitated rules, provided that the certificate is not older than 180 days.
The arrival of any foreigners who have been in South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Eswatini in the past 14 days are banned from entry into the country. However, Sri Lankan citizens arriving from these countries must spend 14 days in quarantine at home.
All arrivals to Switzerland will need to undergo a PCR test for Covid-19 at their own expense before entering the country. The list of countries in the mandatory quarantine list includes Canada, Portugal, Australia, the UK, South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, and more. All passengers arriving into Switzerland from affected countries must undergo quarantine measures, regardless of vaccination status. The new measures will remain in place until 24 January 2022.
Arrivals from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe have been banned from entry into Thailand.
Turkey has issued a ban on arrivals from Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe.
United Arab Emirates
Currently, the UAE has suspended passengers from 12 regions, including South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Congo, Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Nigeria in view of the Omicron COVID-19 variant. All those who have travelled to the seven countries within the past 14 days will not be allowed to enter the UAE. However, outbound flights are still permitted in these countries.
Transfer of excluded groups, including official delegations and UAE citizens, diplomatic missions approved between the UAE and the affected areas, and holders of golden visas are also allowed.
The United States has tightened its testing requirements further. All international travellers must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result within one day of their flight, regardless of their vaccination status. Documentation of having recovered from Covid-19 in the past 90 days is also accepted. Furthermore, unvaccinated Americans and legal permanent residents will be allowed entry into the country with a test taken within one day of departing for the United States.
Vietnam has suspended the entry of all foreigners since March 22, 2020, until further notice to limit the spread of COVID-19. The measure does not apply to diplomats, officials, foreign investors, experts, and skilled workers. However, Vietnam’s government has approved the resumption of international flights between Vietnam and nine destinations from January 1, 2022. These include San Francisco or Los Angeles, Singapore, Bangkok, Phnom Penh, Vientiane, Beijing or Guangzhou, Tokyo, Seoul, and Taipei.