Pandemic over? These countries are easing restrictions and opening up international travel

Updated: Feb 03, 2022, 11:07 PM(IST)

Unfazed by rising Covid cases, many countries are opening up and easing their tough, and often unpopular, restrictive measures aimed to fight the virus. 

The early moves to relax such restrictions evoke a new turning point in a nearly two-year pandemic that has been full of them.

Britain, France, Ireland, the Netherlands and several Nordic countries have taken steps to end or ease their COVID-19 restrictions.

In fact, Bali welcomed its first direct flight carrying foreign tourists after nearly two years on Thursday.

Bali

Indonesia's holiday island of Bali welcomed its first direct flight carrying foreign tourists for nearly two years on Thursday as the country seeks to revive tourism and sustain economic recovery..

Though the island officially opened to visitors from China, New Zealand, Japan and a few other countries in mid-October, there have been no direct non-cargo flights since then.

Under the new rules, vaccinated tourists to Bali must quarantine between five and seven days at hotels or on vessels offshore.

(Photograph:AFP)

Thailand

On Tuesday, Thailand resumed allowing fully vaccinated travelers into the country without quarantine, after a five-week suspension.

(Photograph:AFP)

Philippines

The Philippines said it would reopen to tourists from most countries on February 10, and no longer require fully vaccinated travellers to quarantine in a government facility.

(Photograph:AFP)

Sweden

Sweden said it would lift most of its coronavirus restrictions on February 9 as the pandemic enters a "whole new phase" with the highly contagious but milder Omicron variant.

Among the domestic restrictions that will be lifted are the 11:00 pm closing for bars and restaurants, and limits on crowd numbers.

Vaccine passes for indoor events will no longer be required, and face masks will no longer be recommended on public transport at peak times.

(Photograph:AFP)

Norway

Norway’s easing of restrictions may be the most drastic. There is no longer a limit there on how many people can gather at events, either indoors or outdoors. At movie theaters, churches and elementary schools, social distancing rules are gone.

Restaurants can once again serve drinks past 11 p.m. Colleges and universities are being urged to strive for full in-person instruction. And working from home is no longer required.

(Photograph:AFP)

France

France eased outdoor mask rules and capacity limits for concert halls, stadiums and other events.

(Photograph:AFP)

Denmark

Denmark became the first country in Europe to lift all Covid restrictions on Tuesday, despite rising cases and threats posed by a sub-variant of Omicron.

Limits on indoor gatherings have been lifted, while the use of facemasks and Covid passes have not been made mandatory.

Only a few restrictions remain in place at the country's borders, for unvaccinated travellers arriving from non-Schengen countries.

(Photograph:AFP)

New Zealand

New Zealand will start easing some of the world's toughest pandemic border restrictions this month but will not fully reopen until October, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Thursday.

Ardern announced a five-step plan to reconnect New Zealand to the rest of the world, beginning with waiving hotel quarantine requirements for its nationals stranded overseas by the pandemic.

(Photograph:AFP)

United Kingdom

The UK government that restrictions reimposed in England last month to fight the surge in Omicron coronavirus cases would be lifted, citing data that showed infections had peaked.

Guidance advising people to work from home was lifted immediately, while from the middle of next week they will no longer have to wear masks in any setting or use a so-called Covid pass to enter venues such as nightclubs.

(Photograph:Reuters)

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