The 2021 summer travel season started out full of hope and promise, but increasingly by the week, the Delta variant is throwing it in disarray.
This more transmissible variation of the coronavirus was first detected in India in February, just when the United States and some other places around the world were starting to gear up their vaccination efforts. It turned out to be a race against time: shots in arms vs. Delta’s spread.
Delta infections are climbing as we enter August, particularly among the unvaccinated. Just like all other waves of the pandemic, travel feels the Covid impact quick and hard.
From the latest travel news to recent Google searches on the topic in the past few days, it’s clear the Delta variant is causing increasing worry and disruptions for governments and would-be travelers. Here’s a quick round-up:
UK green list update
The entire world seems to have the United Kingdom on its collective hive mind. In the past 24 hours, worldwide searches for various terms surrounding the United Kingdom’s “green list” have risen anywhere from 450% to 200%.
The official announcement is to come Thursday, August 5, that Austria, Germany, Latvia, Norway Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia will be added to the green list.
A traffic light-based travel system – red, amber and green – is in place in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Non-UK residents from red list countries are currently refused entry to the UK. British residents arriving home from red list destinations must undergo a 10-day hotel quarantine at their own expense.
You can read England’s list here. Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have their own rules but tend to follow suit. You can click links on the England site to see the latest from those places.
You can also read CNN’s guide to Unlocking the UK here, updated weekly.
As of August 4, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had a warning of “Level 4: Very High Level of Covid-19” for the UK. Level 4 is its highest level and advises avoiding travel.
Mexico wants to know about a neighbor
Meanwhile, Mexicans are more interested in travel restrictions to Costa Rica, a favorite of tourists in Central America.
The is one nation not yet putting up any barriers because of Delta: As of August 4, tourists from any country can still visit and arrive via air, land or sea (but only on yachts and sailboats in specific ports). There aren’t even any Covid-19 tests or quarantines in place. But you are still required to fill out a health pass.
You can find out more at the Visit Costa Rica website and CNN’s guide to Unlocking Costa Rica.
As of August 4, the CDC had a warning of “Level 4: Very High Level of Covid-19” for Costa Rica.
New York City: Get vaccinated for the full experience
New York City, on the other hand, is responding to rising cases of the Delta variant in the United States. It’s keeping out the welcome mat to tourists, but they’ll find more rules to follow soon.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced August 3 that vaccines will be mandated for employees and patrons of New York’s indoor dining, fitness and entertainment venues.
The “Key to NYC pass” will launch August 16 and begin being enforced September 13, he said. Final details of the program are expected to be announced the week of August 16.
Discover more at CNN’s guide to Unlocking New York City.
Chicago responds to the Delta variant
While the state of Illinois has no travel restrictions, the city of Chicago does.
Chicago has a separate system that advises Covid-19 testing or quarantine if the unvaccinated visitor comes from a state with a significant infection rate.
As of August 3, there were 19 states and two US territories on the “orange list” that asks for testing or quarantine. Some of the states falling into the orange category included Georgia, Florida, Texas and Missouri.
See all the states and details on Chicago’s travel advisory site.
China cracks down again
Your dreams of seeing the Great Wall and other sites of China soon will most likely have to be postponed.
Because of the Delta variant, China is grappling with its worst Covid-19 outbreak in months. The country now has 144 medium- and high-risk areas, the most since the initial outbreak in early 2020, the National Health Commission said Wednesday.
Chinese immigration authorities have vowed to “strictly restrict non-urgent, unnecessary cross-border travel,” including tightening the issuing of passports for Chinese citizens.
The speed and scale of the spread has also spurred mass domestic travel restrictions, with all inter-city coach, taxi and online car hailing services suspended in medium- and high-risk areas.
Find out more from CNN’s Nectar Yan here.
As of August 4, the CDC had warning of “Level 1: Low Level of Covid-19” for China, but that could possibly change soon given the latest reports.
More destinations moved to Level 4 this week
On Monday, the CDC added 16 destinations to its “very high” Covid-19 risk level, including Greece, Ireland and the US Virgin Islands. In its overarching guidance, the CDC recommends against all international travel until you are fully vaccinated. You can find out the other 13 new “very high” risk destinations here.
Other popular destinations that were already on Level 4 before Monday’s announcement included Brazil, the Maldives, Portugal, Spain and the United Arab Emirates.
You can look up the CDC’s risk level of any destination on its travel recommendations page.
Highlights from the previous week
– US restrictions to stay in place: On July 26, the White House decided to keep existing coronavirus travel restrictions in place, press secretary Jen Psaki said.
“We will maintain existing travel restrictions at this point for a few reasons. The more transmissible Delta variant is spreading both here and around the world,” Psaki told reporters. “Driven by the Delta variant, cases are rising here at home, particularly among those who are unvaccinated and appear likely to continue in the weeks ahead.”
People who have been in Brazil, China, the European Schengen Area, Iran, India, Ireland, South Africa and the United Kingdom in the past 14 days are denied entry to the United States.
– Search interest in Mexico: Google searches for this popular destination have been high. Mexico has been – and continues to be – one of the easiest countries to visit.
Its land border with the United States has been closed for well more than a year now, but air traffic has been flowing in from all over the world. You don’t even have to provide a negative PCR test result or quarantine on arrival. Mexico was at “Level 3: High” on the CDC’s advisory list.
CNN’s Sara Dean, Lauren Kent, Maureen O’Hare, Marnie Hunter and Nectar Gan contributed to this week’s article.
Top photo: Pedestrians cross Westminster Bridge over the River Thames with the Houses of Parliament in the background in central London on July 30, 2021. (Photo by NIKLAS HALLE’N/AFP via Getty Images)