Green Lists And Red Lists: Making Sense Of Covid Travel Restrictions

( – How do you know where you can travel and what the rules are to cross the border?

While tourism and vacation travel should still be pandemic-paused, some essential travel is taking place. For anyone who truly does need to travel, understanding the ever-changing rules and restrictions around the world is a challenge. Here’s a view of what the world looks like right now.

Essential travel only please

For summer 2020, it’s still best to have a stay-cation. But some people do need to travel. Perhaps you and your spouse have different citizenship and were in different countries when Covid travel restrictions were put in place. Maybe you need to visit a sick family member. Or, travel might be a necessary part of the indispensable service you provide (let’s all take a moment to thank essential workers who are keeping us healthy, connected, and fed!).

In response to improving Covid numbers in some parts of the world and the desire to reopen economies that are dependent on visitors, several governments are releasing “green lists.” These are lists of countries deemed safe enough for the government to reduce previous Covid restrictions. Being on a green list might mean travelers from that country are exempt from mandatory quarantine or Covid testing, or may be one of the few who are able to cross the border at all.

Some of the lists are based on country of residence and others based on country of citizenship. Others are based simply on travel from that destination, regardless of the passport you carry or where you live. Jurisdictions that have released these green lists include the European UnionEnglandScotlandWalesNorway and Tunisia. Other countries have green lists under discussion. Ireland, for example, expects to release their list July 20.

There are a few things in common with the various green lists—New Zealand and Japan appear on all of them, the United States is on none of them, and the lists are subject to change without notice. Other than that, there’s no clear picture of why the European Union says travelers from Canada are okay but the United Kingdom doesn’t. Given the different rules, it’s hard to evaluate risks and make any sort of plans.

Red and orange lists

Several countries also released red lists, and one—Tunisia—released an orange list. The meaning of these restricted lists varies. In Tunisia, travelers from countries on the green list only need to complete an online health declaration form, while travelers from orange list countries must also provide proof of a negative Covid test done within 72 hours of departure. Travelers from countries on neither list aren’t allowed in to enjoy Tunisia’s antiquities and beaches.

Another example is Italy, which released a list of 13 banned countries on July 9. As Al Jazeera reports, anyone who has been in the 13 countries—which include Panama and Chile—during the most recent 14 days is not allowed into Italy. This means the EU may need to reinstate internal border checks within the Schengen zone, as these travelers may be allowed, under specific circumstances, into Italy’s EU neighbors.

Some countries have red-listed specific U.S. states too. Aruba lists 24 U.S. states deemed high risk and Jamaica specifies Arizona, Florida, New York and Texas. Travelers from these states need proof of a negative COVID test to be allowed to board flights to either of the two Caribbean countries.


Meant to help make it easier to know who can travel where, the lists are perhaps creating more global confusion about which countries are deemed safe and which aren’t. As well, the lists can give an inaccurate picture of the epidemiological situation which might make residents of that country take unnecessary risks.

A solution from MIT

The EU’s Re-open EU website identifies the situation within Europe, but it’s still aimed at European travelers, despite the EU’s green list of 12 (down from 14) countries allowed into Europe. For a global look, check out the new free tool created by a team of engineers from MIT. Called, it consolidates the ever-changing Covid information from around the world into one easy-to-use place. gathers relevant details from countries’ health and foreign affairs departments, tourism boards, news outlets and other sources to populate an interactive map. Click on St. Vincent and the Grenadines and learn that its 32 Caribbean islands are open for tourism and that, as of July 1, a PCR Covid-19 test is required. There’s a note reminding you that its the law to report any Covid symptoms during your stay.

Or, click on Finland to see the current number of people sick with Covid (172 on July 15), the number of new cases in the past 7 days (22), and that 97.6% of the outbreak is deemed contained. You’re also able to see the countries that are allowed to enter Finland without restrictions, as well as whether transportation, restaurants, shops and tourist attractions are open.

When we do have the green light to travel freely again, here’s hoping it will be easier to obey all the various Covid rules that are likely to remain for some time to come.

By News784

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