Welcome to Friday Around the Planet, where I wrap up the travel-related news you might have missed this week as requirements and restrictions in countries around the world rapidly change.
After a year of false starts in 2021, we know better than to get ahead of ourselves due to the unpredictability of COVID-19. But, this week felt like a glimmer of hope that we might see at least a bit more stability when it comes to travel restrictions and planning those long-awaited trips to far flung destinations.
(Shameless plug: maybe it’s time for a guidebook for one of those destinations you’ve been dreaming about during lockdown.)
Morocco and the Philippines both reopened their borders this week. On the heels of New Zealand’s announcement last week, Australia announced after almost two years, it would reopen its borders to fully vaccinated visitors starting February 21. Sweden and Denmark joined Norway in lifting COVID restrictions and reopening to visitors.
The final piece of good news this week: Ireland is planning a massive festival to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day returning this year. Adding to the joyous celebration, the Irish government declared March 18 a national holiday to thank its citizens and acknowledge the tough times they bore through the pandemic. Since St. Patrick’s Day (March 17) is always a national holiday – that gives the country a long weekend to celebrate (and recover?).
COVID-19 travel requirements
While French Polynesia announced it would require proof of a booster shot from travelers who had their last jab more than 9 months prior to arriving, Hawaii went the opposite direction saying it would not require boosters and is in the early stages of exploring when it should sunset its Safe Travels program altogether.
(Speaking of which: Lonely Planet has this new guide to accessible travel in Hawaii if you and your loved ones are planning a trip.)
Though the CDC did add Japan and several other destinations to a list that already includes more than 130 countries it advises Americans not to travel to due to COVID-19, it also moved South Africa off the list to Level-3 status. Meanwhile, media reports swirled that COVID restrictions may soon be sunset in France as well as the requirement to show a COVID-19 health pass to enter indoor establishments. We’ll let you know if and when an announcement is made.
For more information on COVID-19 and travel, check out Lonely Planet's Health Hub.
Black History Month in New York City
Black History Month celebrates the historic achievements of Black Americans that have often been overlooked and my colleague Lynn Brown has highlighted a few great experiences around the New York City area this week that you should put on your list to visit the next time you're in NYC.
The Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD) in cooperation with The Africa Center are hosting an exhibit called “African/American: Making the Nation’s Table” which documents the historic contributions of Black chefs to the culinary tapestry of America. (I’m particularly intrigued by the shoebox lunches prepared by famous chefs, a nod to how African Americans packed their lunches during the Great Migration as they were often refused service while traveling.)
The beloved home of Louis Armstrong has reopened to the public after closing due to COVID-19. The museum spent the time refreshing the exhibits, making renovations and constructing a new 14,000 square foot Armstrong Center in a brand new space across the street from the historic home.
And while you’re at it, check out the Black Gotham Experience walking tours that document the contributions of Black Americans to New York since the colonial era, that have often been overlooked in history books(and guided tours).
Glacier National Park: Mark your Calendar
If you’re planning to visit Glacier National Park this year, set a calendar alert on your phone for March 2. That’s when tickets to drive Going-to-the-Sun road will go up for grabs on Recreation.gov. This is the second year the park has required tickets to manage traffic on the route and last year, tickets went fast - so our advice is make an account in advance and be online at 8 am MST.