Another day — another border reopens.
In the past two weeks, a slew of countries announced plans to reopen or relax border restrictions. These include places that have maintained some of the strictest pandemic-related border controls in the world.
The announcements come on the heels of a record-setting period of global infections. According to the World Health Organization, Covid-19 cases hit a new peak worldwide in late January, with more than 4 million cases registered in a single day.
However, many countries are signaling that they can’t economically afford — or are no longer willing — to stay closed.
The pervasiveness of the omicron variant, which started spreading in countries — both open and closed — late last year, led people to question the utility of locked border policies.
In addition, more than half (54%) of the world’s population is now vaccinated, according to Our World in Data. Medical treatments can successfully thwart and treat severe infections. And, many experts are now “cautiously optimistic” — as top American medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci has stated — that a new phase of the pandemic may be within reach.
New Zealand – Another so-called “fortress” announced plans to welcome back vaccinated international visitors.
Unlike Australia, New Zealand last week outlined a five-step phased reopening plan that won’t allow international travelers to enter until July, at the earliest. Vaccinated travelers must also self-isolate for 10 days upon arrival.
After closing its borders in March 2020, the Philippines announced plans to reopen today to vaccinated travelers from more than 150 countries and territories.
Despite rising infections, Bali, Indonesia, opened to vaccinated international travelers last week.
Malaysia’s National Recovery Council on Tuesday recommended that the country reopen to international travelers as early as March 1, according to Reuters.