May 2022 Travel Restrictions Update
The month of May is usually the last opportunity of the spring travel season to secure lower travel costs and avoid summer vacation crowds. While the omicron BA.2 subvariant remains a threat, many international destinations have loosened restrictions to attract foreign visitors.
United States Travel Restrictions
There have been no significant changes to the United States domestic travel guidelines since April 2022. No state has a mandatory quarantine or proof of vaccine requirements.
In addition, many cities and counties have been ending their indoor mask mandates. For example, Philadelphia had briefly reinstated its mandate in late April but suspended it a week later.
While there are no sweeping masking requirements from states and cities like there were in early 2022, individual businesses and tourist attractions may still require customers to wear masks.
TSA Mask Mandate
The most important travel requirement facing domestic travelers is the TSA mask mandate suspension. Travelers should still keep a mask near their boarding pass and photo ID. Commercial travel providers and transportation hubs may still require travelers at least two years old to wear masks too.
For example, of the four New York airports, JFK, La Guardia and Stewart still require masks. However, masks are optional at Newark International Airport in New Jersey.
Masks are also optional at nearly every major U.S. airport. However, select airlines may require wearing a mask for international flights. Optional masking also applies to commercial train, bus and boat travel in most instances.
While most commercial travel providers made masks optional starting April 19, 2022, the CDC is requesting the Department of Justice to appeal the court ruling. A successful appeal can bring the federal mask requirement back into effect.
Only fully vaccinated travelers can visit Canada by air, land or sea. A pre-arrival test is no longer necessary. The only unvaccinated travelers that can enter quarantine-free are eligible children below age 12 that are accompanying vaccinated parents or guardians.
The Latin American entry requirements remain a patchwork of strict and lenient guidelines. Mexico remains the most lenient as the nation doesn’t have mandatory testing or vaccination certification. Costa Rica has similar guidelines as Mexico.
Argentina also doesn’t have testing or vaccination requirements. But, travelers must have travel insurance for their stay.
Countries with Mandatory Testing For The Unvaccinated
These countries don’t have restrictions for the fully vaccinated but require a negative test for the unvaccinated:
Other notable destinations like Brazil and Colombia are sealed off to the unvaccinated.
The Caribbean remains a popular go-to spot for international travel. After all, these island nations are easy-to-reach from the United States and have pristine beaches.
Here are the entry requirements for some of the most-visited islands.
The Bahamas entry requirements are about average for the region. They are not overly restrictive but remain cautious to protect travelers and locals.
For starters, vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers must have a negative pre-arrival test. However, vaccinated adults and children (vaccinated and unvaccinated) have more testing options.
Beyond pre-arrival testing requirements, visitors must obtain a Bahamas travel visa. The visa application fee also provides mandatory travel insurance for the trip dates.
The Dominican Republic has minimal entry requirements. No pre-arrival testing or vaccine proof is required, but airport authorities may conduct random entry tests.
Jamaica also has more lenient travel requirements than a few months ago. Travelers no longer need a pre-arrival test or a travel authorization form.
U.S. citizens may consider heading to Puerto Rico for a Caribbean getaway. First, it’s a domestic flight. Second, the territory no longer requires a mandatory pre-arrival test or proof of vaccination to enter.
U.S. Virgin Islands
The U.S. Virgin Islands requires domestic travelers to show vaccine proof or a negative pre-arrival test to enter. This requirement is similar to the now-defunct Hawaii Safe Travels program.
Two popular European destinations are making it easier for international visitors to visit.
Since May 1, 2022, Greece no longer requires proof of vaccination, a negative pre-arrival test or proof of a recent recovery to visit. However, a mask is still necessary on flights and at airports.
A growing number of western European countries carry similar travel guidelines that are the closest yet to pre-pandemic travel norms.
Some of the other countries that already have flexible entry requirements include:
- United Kingdom
- Czech Republic
Italy’s entry requirements are stricter than Greece’s, yet a key roadblock is being removed. Tourists no longer need to fill out the EU passenger locator form, which can be tedious.
Additionally, a nationwide health pass (i.e., proof of vaccination) is now optional for restaurants and select indoor businesses that rely on tourism dollars. However, masks remain mandatory on commercial transit, such as public buses.
Despite these relaxed travel guidelines, unvaccinated travelers must have a negative pre-arrival test.
Other European Countries
Some of the remaining most popular European destinations maintain their existing requirements. Here are the highlights for select countries:
- France: Fully vaccinated visitors can enter without a test. Unvaccinated travelers must have a negative pre-arrival test.
- Spain: Only fully vaccinated travelers are allowed entry and don’t need a pre-arrival test.
- Germany: Fully vaccinated visitors can enter without a test. Unvaccinated travelers must have a negative pre-arrival test.
- Portugal: Fully vaccinated visitors can enter without a test. Unvaccinated travelers must have a negative pre-arrival test.
Of these four, Spain is the only one not to accept unvaccinated or partially vaccinated visitors. One exception is traveling to Spain for “compelling reasons.”
Traveling to Asia remains the most challenging region for tourism as countries maintain strict entry requirements.
Thailand is probably the most accessible Asian country to visit as it ended two entry programs on May 1, 2022. Fully vaccinated visitors no longer need to participate in the “Test and Go” program, which requires a pre-arrival negative test.
Additionally, the country no longer enforces the Sandbox program that required travelers to quarantine at approved resorts. This removal makes movement within the country easier for tourists.
The new No Quarantine Program, in effect from May 1, 2022, applies to vaccinated travelers. These visitors only need to acquire a Thailand Pass and Covid-19 travel insurance for their travel dates.
Unvaccinated visitors will need to quarantine for five days but may be able to waive this period with a negative pre-arrival test.
Australia is also open for tourism, and it’s now a little easier to visit without a potential quarantine. Since April 18, 2022, fully vaccinated travelers no longer need a negative pre-arrival test when coming by plane or cruise ship.
Regional travel guidelines can also apply but vary by state.
Unvaccinated travelers are still unable to visit the Land Down Under.
When coming from a visa-waiver country, vaccinated workers and students can potentially visit New Zealand from May 1, 2022. The United States is currently on this travel list, but visitors must apply for visas. Travel visa applications remain on hold for general tourists until October 2022.
While there are still international travel restrictions, the mood remains upbeat as countries are eager to welcome summer travelers. New coronavirus cases and hospitalizations remain relatively low. Now can be an opportune time to take advantage of smaller crowds and the milder temperatures.