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Now open: Peru’s Inca Trail, the Galapagos islands and Phuket paradise

By Maureen O’Hare, CNN

Well, guys, July has arrived and still Covid-19 and its variants are refusing to pack their bags and take a summer break.

Luckily CNN Travel is here to guide you through this week’s news on which destinations are opening their borders, loosening their regulations or battening down the hatches.

The Americas

This is not a drill.

The United States’ July 4 weekend is set to be as busy as pre-Covid times, with lines at airports and jams on the highways guaranteed.

And after a pandemic-induced hiatus last year, many places known for their Independence Day fireworks celebrations will be back in action for 2021. CNN Travel has put together a roundup of some of the top spots and when to go.

In the Empire State, New Yorkers will be able to celebrate the holiday with not one but two Statues of Liberty.

France has gifted the US with a second statue — a “little sister” 1/16th of the size — and it’ll be available to view on Ellis Island until July 5, before making its way to its new home at the French ambassador’s residence in Washington, D.C.

Visitors will also be able to finally get back inside the Statue of Liberty itself. Its interior reopened Thursday, right up to the pedestal.

Last weekend, CNN was on board the first cruise ship to sail out of a United States port in more than 15 months.

Celebrity Edge departed from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on a seven-night voyage with ports of call in Mexico and the Bahamas. We’re happy to report there were no lines at the buffet and plenty of lounge chairs available by the pool.

Over in Hawaii, the pre-travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated travelers will end July 8, which coincides with the Aloha States’ vaccination rates hitting 60%.

On the same date, other new rules will come into effect. Indoor gathering sizes can go from 10 people to 25, and restaurants can have up to 75% capacity.

Up north in Canada, there are hopes that border restrictions with the US might relax come July 21.

Starting July 5, fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents arriving into the country after traveling abroad will be able to leave the mandatory two-week quarantine early if they test negative for Covid on entry.

Newfoundland and Labrador, the country’s easternmost province, has also reopened its borders to other Canadians, meaning that the delights of UNESCO World Heritage site Gros Morne National Park and Fogo Island can once again be enjoyed by all citizens in the country.

There’s good news for adventure travelers as permits for Peru‘s Inca Trail have gone on sale for the first time since March 2020. Guided tours will resume July 15 and will operate at 50% capacity.

Mainland Ecuador and all its provinces, including the wildlife wonderland that is the Galapagos, have also reopened to international visitors.

In Europe

European countries have been popping open like the doors on an Advent calendar. Two of the latest to join the party are Switzerland and Sweden, which both opened their borders this week to travelers from the US and other approved nations.

Spain has gone one further and waived vaccination requirements for US tourists, meaning Carl from Colorado and Amy from Arkansas can now visit without needing the jab or to quarantine.

The EU Digital Covid Certificate officially launched July 1, having already been introduced on a voluntary basis in several of the EU‘s 27 member nations.

The “vaccine passport” is a way for EU citizens to prove they’ve been vaccinated, had a recent negative PCR test or recovered from coronavirus and should allow people to skip quarantine and testing while moving around the bloc.

One country is behind on the starter block, though: Ireland won’t be able to issue certificates until its reopening date of July 19, with a cyberattack in May being blamed for the delay.

The Italian city of Florence is preparing for the influx of summer tourists by banning evening walks in the city’s most popular nightlife areas, unless people have receipts to prove they’ve been eating or drinking.

Over in Moscow, the Russian capital is experiencing a rise in new Covid cases. Restaurants, cafes and bars have started asking customers of proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test before they can enter.

The UK has expanded its travel “green list” to include popular European tourist destinations including Malta, Madeira and the Balearic Islands, as well as Atlantic and Caribbean destinations including Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Antigua, Barbuda, Dominica, Barbados and Grenada.

This means that British holidaymakers will no longer have to self-isolate upon returning home from these places, but — as always — the list is subject to change.

Middle East and Africa

Abu Dhabi, the Emirati capital, is offering up free Covid-19 vaccines to any traveler who wants one. Previously, these vaccines were only available to citizens or residency visa holders, but the potential of a “vaxication” could bring even more eager tourists — and their wallets — into the country.

And those jabs will be useful next month. From August 20, the city will only allow vaccinated people in some public spaces, including schools, universities and nurseries. The August date is to allow people more time to get themselves jabbed and ready.

The picturesque country of Mauritius off the coast of East Africa in the Indian Ocean has kicked off the first phase of its multipart reopening plan. From July 15 to September 30, vaccinated visitors can take part in a system similar to Sri Lanka’s “bubble resort” program, where they stay put at their accommodation of choice for 14 days and then, upon completion of the semi-quarantine, can travel freely around the island.


For the first time in over 15 months, Thailand‘s popular resort island of Phuket is allowing vaccinated international travelers to enter without quarantine restrictions.

The “Phuket Sandbox” program is necessary to restart the country’s economy, Thailand Minister of Tourism Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn told CNN in an interview on the eve of the reopening.

Off the island, however, the country continues to battle its third and worst Covid-19 wave since the start of the pandemic. On Thursday, Thailand reported a record-high 57 Covid-19 deaths and 5,533 new cases, mostly in Bangkok.

Over in Australia, meanwhile, the country’s superstrict restrictions are about to get even stricter.

Recent Covid outbreaks have put 10 million Australians in lockdown and now, from July 14, the country will be halving international arrivals to just over 3,000 a week. The new measure will be in place until at least the end of the year.

Cautionary tale of the week

Two men in Australia‘s Royal National Park were fined $760 each for violating Sydney’s latest round of lockdowns after police found them naked and lost in the bush as they apparently fled from a wild animal.

“Unbelievably, we saw two men sunbaking naked on a beach on the South Coast,” New South Wales Police Commissioner Mick Fuller told a news briefing on Monday.

“They were startled by a deer, ran into the national park and got lost. Not only did they require assistance from SES (State Emergency Service) and police to rescue them, they also both received a ticket.”

™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Forrest Brown, Karla Cripps, Marnie Hunter, Lilit Marcus, Kocha Olarn, Lorraine Poupon, Angus Watson and Xiaofei Xu contributed to this story.

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