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Book carefully; Some open countries are shutting down again

June 19, 2021
10 min read
Le Morne Brabant, Black River district, Indian Ocean, Mauritius (Photo by Roberto Moiola/Getty Images)
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Here at the Points Guy, we've been keeping a close eye on reopenings around the world. In fact, it's become a huge part of our daily news coverage. One thing we haven't been able to track as closely is what countries then have to go back into some form of lockdown.

That changes today.

We're going to keep an updated list of countries that have had to re-close borders or limit tourism because of new outbreaks of COVID-19 or the spread of the new, more virulent strain of coronavirus known as the "Delta variant."

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Here's a list of the countries that are again closed or partially closed to Americans

Chile

(Photo by Marco Bottigelli/Getty Images)

Chile has temporarily suspended entry by all non-resident foreigners until at least June 30, 2021.

Americans had been allowed to visit Chile since Nov. 23, 2020, according to the U.S. Embassy in Chile, when the country began to gradually reopen its borders to foreign visitors via Santiago Airport.

Anyone who is currently allowed to enter is required to present three documents: a completed Affidavit of Travelers electronic form (done within 48 hours of travel); proof of a negative result from a COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to departure; and proof of a health insurance policy that provides coverage for COVID-19 and related health issues during the traveler’s stay in Chile.

Since Dec. 31, 2020, anyone entering Chile with the three documents described above has also been required to undergo a 10-day quarantine, with a test taken on the 7th day and a negative result releasing them from quarantine. But as of March 31, 2021, the government said the first five days of quarantine must be spent in a “transit hotel” (at the traveler’s cost) and after receiving a negative test, travelers will be released to finish their quarantine at their chosen hotel or residence. All non-resident foreigners are also required to complete a 14-day “Period of Vigilance for Travelers,” by reporting their location and health condition to authorities daily via email.

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Chile is under a State of Emergency through June 2021 and much of the country is under mandatory quarantine restrictions, which vary by region and neighborhood; some movement between regions if restricted, there is a nationwide 9 p.m. curfew and face masks are required in public.

LATAM resumed flights between Santiago and the U.S., but before November 2020 they had been used mostly for humanitarian and repatriation flights.

The U.S. State Department’s travel advisory for Chile is Level 4: Do Not Travel and the CDC’s advisory for the country is Level 4: Very High Level of COVID-19.

Mauritius

Luxury beach with mountain in Mauritius. Sandy beach with palms and blue ocean. Aerial view (Photo by Nuture/Getty Images)

The island nation of Mauritius was under lockdown until June 15, 2020, when the restrictions were fully lifted.

Unfortunately, the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius has suspended all incoming flights to the country through at least June 30, 2021. On March 10, 2021, Mauritius also went into an island-wide lockdown that closed beaches, shops and restaurants through April 30, 2021. Some restrictions have been eased, but restaurants are now open for delivery and takeout only.

According to the U.S. Embassy in Mauritius, as of Oct. 1 Americans had been allowed to visit but only long-stay arrivals who purchase a travel package will be approved with a mandatory 14-day quarantine in-room at an establishment recognized by the authorities. Travelers must also undergo multiple COVID-19 PCR tests. Any traveler who has visited The United Kingdom, South Africa, Japan or Brazil within the past 14 days will be denied entry to Mauritius through at least Feb. 28. Mask mandates remain in effect throughout the island.

The U.S State Department's advisory for Mauritius is Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution.

Related: Planning a dream trip to Mauritius

Nepal

Hikers walk to Everest Base Camp during Everest Base Camp trekking in Nepal.(photo courtesy: Kriangkrai Thitimakorn/Getty Images)

Nepal is open but has very few international flights in or out until at least June 30, as the government banned nearly all air travel to help contain a second wave of the virus that hit the country.

Nepal just went through a massive outbreak of COVID cases in May which saw thousands of new cases and hundreds of deaths daily, but the worst appears to be past. Still the lack of vaccines remains a problem in the country. Less than 10 percent of the Himalayan nation has received at least one vaccine shot, and only 2.5 percent are fully immunized.

One unusual fallout from Nepal's restrictions on flights is that it has made it very difficult for climbers who were in the country to scale Mount Everest to leave. There were 742 permits to scale Everest issued for the April-May climbing season. But because only five weekly flights are available, some climbers are still stranded in Kathmandu.

The CDC has Nepal at a Level 4: Very High Level of COVID-19 and warns people, even those who are fully vaccinated, to avoid traveling there.

The State Department has Nepal at Level 4: Do Not Travel

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka train. (Photo by Chris Dong/The Points Guy)

The U.S. warned against traveling to Sri Lanka after a recent surge in May of COVID cases. As a result, the CDC issued a Level 4: Very High Level of COVID-19 advisory for Sri Lanka

According to the most recent update on the website of the U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka, American travelers are required to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine followed by an at-home 14-day self-isolation. All U.S. citizens arriving by plane over the age of two must also show upon arrival a negative COVID test taken within three days of travel.

St Kitts & Nevis

Saint Kitts Island. (Photo by Danita Delimont/Getty Images)

St Kitts & Nevis had already enacted new protocols to only allow fully-vaccinated visitors into the dual-island nation as of May 29, due to a spike in COVID cases. Now, after recording its first coronavirus-related death on Thursday, officials are taking further steps. The Federation is now under a State of Emergency until July 6.

Related: St Kitts & Nevis crackdown

Only fully-vaccinated travelers (having received their shots at least two weeks from their travel) will be allowed to clear customs. Aside from uploading a vaccination card, visitors will need to show proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of travel to the twin-island nation, as well as complete a Travel Authorization Form. Rapid COVID tests will not be accepted. All tourists who clear those hurdles will then have to “vacation in place” at an approved hotel for nine days. If the visit is longer than nine days, you will have to take another COVID test, at your own expense.

Even if you clear all those requirements, there won't be much to do on the islands for the time being. All businesses that can operate virtually have been closed. There are no gambling sites open, mass events have been temporarily banned, and the beaches can only be used for exercise purposes.

The State Department's Travel Advisory for St Kitts and Nevis is Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution

Zambia

Victoria Falls. (Photo by prasit_chansareekorn / Getty Images)

Zambia, home to Victoria Falls and known as a top safari destination, is open to international travelers, including Americans. However, according to the U.S. Embassy in Zambia, a second wave of cases is currently infecting the country, with Lusaka one of the hot spots, and the CDC has issued a Level 4: Very High Level of COVID warning for the country.

Related: Everything you need to know to go on an African safari.

Zambia now requires a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within seven days of arrival, although many airlines require one within 72 hours of travel. Tourists also need a visa (apply online for a e-visa here). There are no quarantine requirements right now, but there are reports of some health screenings and symptomatic individuals may be required to submit to testing and/or quarantine.

There are some reports that safaris were being cancelled due to a new wave of COVID-19, but officially you can still visit.

Zimbabwe

(Photo by Peng Lijun/Xinhua/ via Getty Images)

There is actually good news to report regarding Zimbabwe and its travel protocols.

The latest CDC advisory issued on June 7 elevated Zimbabwe to its highest (meaning most positive) category for countries with regards to COVID safety. The current advisory shows the country at Level 1: Low Level of COVID-19. Under Level 1 status, the CDC only recommends travelers be fully vaccinated before visiting a country in that category.

"Primary and secondary criteria used to determine Travel Health Notice levels were updated to better differentiate countries with severe outbreak situations from countries with sustained, but controlled, Covid-19 spread," the CDC said in a statement detailing Zimbabwe's new status.

Despite its improving situation with COVID numbers, Zimbabwe is running low on vaccines. Less than 10 percent of its population has received at least the first vaccination shot.

Related: Country-by-country guide to Africa reopenings

Zimbabwe reopened its borders to international flights on Oct. 1. In a statement, the government said, “All travelers will be required to have a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) COVID-19 clearance certificate issued by a recognized facility within 48 hours from the date of departure.”

Quarantine is no longer required for tourists if a negative test is presented. Those who arrive without the required test must get tested upon arrival and quarantine in a government holding facility until getting a negative result.

And if you want to find out where U.S. travelers can go right now, follow this link for our complete guide to which countries are allowing U.S. travelers.

Additional reporting by Mike Avila and Donna Heiderstadt.

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
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  • Annual Fee

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    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

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Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more