Welcome to Friday Around the Planet, where I wrap up the travel-related news from the week to help inform your travel planning as requirements and restrictions in countries around the world rapidly change.

A glimmer of promise this week on the travel horizon. We’ve seen a myriad of destinations either announcing plans to reopen or revising travel restrictions to make it easier for foreign travelers to come visit.

Three notable reopening announcements came this week:

New Zealand set out a schedule for its reopening which allows foreign visitors from 60 visa waiver countries (this includes countries like Australia, the UK, US, Canada, Ireland, Japan) to start visiting in July and all countries by October.

- Bali is among the spots in Southeast Asia that are reopening to visitors with some quarantine requirements.

Another notable reopening: Morocco which closed its borders for a second time in November upon the discovery of the Omicron variant.

A farmer tends rice paddies near Ubud, Bali
Bali has reopened to visitors again © Pete Seaward / Lonely Planet

Puerto Rico also announced this week it would make it easier for both vaccinated and unvaccinated US citizens to travel from the mainland to the territory. Vaccinated US citizens no longer need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test. They only must upload proof of vaccination. Meanwhile, unvaccinated US citizens can cut their mandatory quarantine short with proof of a negative COVID-19 test.

(If you plan a trip to this 2022 Best in Travel destination, check out this guide from our partner Platea on how San Juan’s art scene is reinvigorating the city.)

On the flip side, Mexico has struggled with rising COVID-19 infections recently. The number of cases reached the critical level where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed Mexico’s status to Level 4, where it recommends Americans avoid travel. If you do plan to travel to Mexico, the CDC recommends to be fully vaccinated.

Read more: I planned a trip to a country the CDC labeled 'Do not travel.' Should I cancel?

For more information on COVID-19 and travel, check out Lonely Planet's Health Hub.

In non-COVID-19 travel news around the planet

February is Black History Month in the United States, celebrating the historic contributions and achievements of Black Americans. Add these historic sites to your list of places to visit. If you’re not ready to travel yet, experience the world through the prose of these 15 Black women travel writers.

The annual natural phenomenon of Yosemite Firefall, where the light hits the melting snow waterfall off the face of El Capitan in such a way it glows red and orange, takes place in just a couple of weeks. Here's how to see it.

Yosemite Firefall at Sunset
It's almost time for the Yosemite Firefall phenomenon © Getty Images/iStockphoto

The iconic Queen Mary, a historic luxury ocean liner and landmark of Long Beach, closed this week for what the city calls “critical repairs.” After years of deferred maintenance, the ship will undergo the first phase of repairs including removing its deteriorating lifeboats, which are putting stress on the ship causing its structure to crack in some places. The city of Long Beach will spend $5 million on the project and hopes to reopen to visitors later this year.

Shenandoah National Park now requires a ticket to hike the challenging but scenic hike up Old Rag Mountain.

And, if you need a little inspiration for your wanderlust, check out this list of over-the-water bungalows you can find in the Caribbean. Or, if you’d rather stay on dry land, the best overnight train trips through Europe.

Have something you'd like to see us cover in Friday around the Planet? Reach out to Senior News Editor Melissa Yeager at melissa.yeager@lonelyplanet.com.

You might also like:
Explained: What do France's proposed health pass rules mean for tourists?
Cayman Islands revises travel requirements to allow unvaccinated children
Traveling with family? New UK vaccine passport rules in place ahead of half-term trips

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