If you plan to travel internationally from Alaska, stay on top of changing restrictions in the event of a pandemic

I was really dizzy last week when I checked the airfares to travel to Europe. Destinations like Barcelona and Madrid have dropped below $ 400 round trip from Anchorage and Fairbanks. Tickets were available for some destinations until mid-April.

These agreements are gone now. There’s a good chance the low fares will return soon. But many people picked up the cheap tickets to Athens, Budapest, Paris and Rome. The question remains, however: will they be able to fly?

If travelers are fully vaccinated, they are more likely to ignore any new restrictions – additional testing and quarantine – that may appear by the time they travel.

If you haven’t made firm plans to visit Europe yet, you should regularly check the steps travelers need to take before they arrive. Last week, the European Union removed the United States from its list of “safe countries” due to the increase in COVID-19 cases. This means that further travel restrictions are likely.

In fact, the Netherlands recently instituted a mandatory 10-day quarantine, even for fully vaccinated U.S. visitors. Unvaccinated travelers cannot enter the country. Travelers can reduce their quarantine if they test negative after five days. Italy has also added testing and self-quarantine provisions for U.S. travelers. Bulgaria has now banned entry to American travelers.

However, not all European countries restrict travelers. Portugal allows American travelers – vaccinated and unvaccinated – to visit, although pre-arrival COVID-19 testing is required.

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Two international airlines offer country-by-country details on entry requirements, including testing, quarantine, and documentation. United provides the information in a long list, including the conditions for returning to the United States. In many cases, United provides a link to the required government health form.

All U.S. citizens must take a COVID test before returning home, even if you have been vaccinated.

Delta Air Lines has a card on its website that is color coded, depending on entry restrictions. You can sort the results to include only destinations where museums are open or exclude destinations that require quarantine, for example.

Most European countries require vaccinated travelers to present their original vaccination card. Photos on the card are not accepted.

Almost all countries have specific requirements for entry due to COVID-19. Many still do not accept non-essential travelers. Many countries still require travelers to self-quarantine at their own expense. There is no universal standard at all.

Here in the United States, there are no specific restrictions on travel. But if you’re on the go, it’s wise to watch how COVID is affecting the communities you visit. In fact, even here at home in Alaska, the virus is disrupting hospital and emergency services. The bottom line is: Don’t get sick or have an accident that requires a hospital visit. No one is anticipating this, but it adds another layer of risk for everyone.

In Hawaii, fully vaccinated travelers can avoid state testing and quarantine requirements. But recently Hawaii Governor David Ige asked travelers to stay away from the islands until November due to the spread of COVID-19.

Air travelers can find some pretty good deals for Florida right now. For example, tickets from Anchorage to Tampa or Fort Myers are available for less than $ 120 one way on Delta or Alaska. But you better pray that you don’t have to go to the hospital. The region’s health system is stretched. Local hospitals are overflowing with COVID-19 patients.

Last week I was on a family business that included a trip through the New Orleans airport, then up the Mississippi coast and finally into rural Alabama.

Take a look at any COVID-19 card and you can see that these three states have some of the highest infection rates, resulting in increased pressure on hospitals.

If the number of cases were not enough to push hospitals to the brink, Hurricane Ida struck the Gulf Coast with wind, rain, flooding and power outages. Our family members who were due to return from New Orleans had to quickly regroup and leave from Montgomery, Alabama.

As we head into the latest wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, travelers will need to look beyond official government guidelines to see if they should travel. Some governments are better than others at advising visitors.

Especially when it comes to travel to the United States, public health officials may offer a better barometer on whether or not to travel. The number of hospitals and the number of new cases in a community can cause you to delay or cancel your trip.

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