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The destinations dropping all Covid rules for entry and more of the latest in travel

By Maureen O’Hare, CNN

This week at CNN Travel, we look at the countries dropping all their Covid-related rules for entry, innovative airplane cabin designs, new breathtaking bridges and why Finland is living its best life.

Covid? What Covid?

A small but increasing number of destinations are lifting all of their Covid-related travel restrictions, regardless of vaccination status, including some European favorites.

The United Kingdom, Ireland and Hungary all swelled the ranks this month. The Caribbean island Aruba, the Portuguese archipelago Madeira and north-central Asia’s Mongolia have also lifted their main Covid entry requirements.

They join Iceland, Norway and Slovenia, which all shed their Covid rules in February.

Other countries will be watching closely to measure the success or failure of these bold moves as Omicron continues to spread around the world.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s travel advisory list, increasingly a hoarse-voiced Cassandra, still has about 125 destinations in its highest-risk “avoid travel” category — with the latest addition an Indian Ocean island nation.

Masks on planes

Several UK airlines, including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, have just made mask-wearing optional for passengers and crew on certain flights. The rules are more than a little opaque, however, and are dependent on the laws of the destination country.

Mask-wearing has been a contentious issue on planes over the past two years. The US Transportation Security Administration has issued more than $644,000 in fines for alleged mask violations since February 2021.

The US mask mandate is currently set to be in place through April 18. Whether it’s lifted or extended again, there are bound to be some unhappy (and potentially very unruly) passengers either way. And if some industry advocates get their way, a no-fly list for unruly travelers could help keep bad behavior in check.

Record-breaking bridges

Turkey opened an impressive suspension bridge across the Dardanelles Strait on Friday that just so happens to connect the continents of Europe and Asia. (Turkey is in a very rare club — nations that occupy parts of two continents.)

It was a massive, record-setting undertaking. Find out its jaw-dropping stats and how much it will cost vehicles to cross.

Meanwhile, China is setting its own record with bridges. In April, a bridge is set to open in scenic Yunnan province with a “singular” feature that has to be seen to be believed.

What’s Finland’s secret?

The Nordic nation of Finland has just been named the world’s happiest country for the fifth year in a row.

The Finns have plenty to smile about, the newly released World Happiness Report says, when it comes to healthy life expectancy, GDP per capita, social support when times are hard, high social trust and more.

Global levels of worry and stress have also dipped a little, though they’re still higher than pre-pandemic levels. Check out who else made the top of the list.

Future of flying

Window, middle, aisle; window, middle, aisle.

If you’re feeling that airplane cabins are just too same-y, the design shortlist for the 2022 Crystal Cabin Awards should make you perk up.

How about ceiling and wall projections that make you feel like you’re underwater? Or maybe a lounge-style couch seat where you can catch up with your travel companion over a drink? Check out the designs here.

New European hotels

From the rock ‘n’ roll Chateau Denmark in London’s swinging Soho to the Greek temple of gastronomy Xenodocheio Milos in Athens, there are a lot of new boutique hotel openings in Europe to get excited about in 2022. Here’s our roundup of the best.

In case you missed it

Climbers held the world’s highest tea party on Mount Everest.

Extra supplies hauled up the mountain included Girl Scout cookies.

Los Angeles’ Koreatown is one of the West Coast’s buzziest neighborhoods.

Revisit Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown” trip there in 2013.

These are the most delicious pies around the world, both sweet and savory.

Pastry perfection.

Get set, travel

If you’re planning to hit the beach again this spring or summer, you might be looking to refresh your seaside scanties.

Our partners at CNN Underscored, a product reviews and recommendations guide owned by CNN, have put together this roundup of 33 stylist-approved and top-rated swimsuit options for men and women of all body types.

™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

Top image: Scafell Pike and Wastwater in England’s Wasdale Valley. (Credit: Courtesy Britain)

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