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Now open: From the Bahamas to the Leaning Tower of Pisa and more

4 min read


(CNN) — It’s not been an easy year running a travel news desk. Openings, closings, ever-changing guidance — there’s been a lot for CNN Travel to monitor.

What it has made us, however, is Covid travel experts. Now that the world is starting to open back up, we’ll be sharing our knowledge with you through these new weekly round-ups.

Come here to learn about the attractions opening their doors, the destinations relaxing entry rules, and the places where Covid spikes have forced authorities to pull down shutters.

Openings

Sunkissed paradise islands your thing? Then the good news is that French Polynesia reopened its borders to tourists arriving from the United States on May 1, allowing some travelers to once again enjoy beach getaways in Tahiti and Bora Bora.

Travelers must have been in the United States for at least 30 days prior to departure. Vaccinated travelers and those with proof of immunity can bypass the 10-day quarantine.

The bad new is, of course, that it’s French Polynesia — right in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, which means it isn’t exactly handy for a weekend break.

Broadway is set to light up again in September 2021.

Broadway is set to light up again in September 2021.

Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

In New York, Broadway tickets went on sale Thursday for shows starting September 14, giving fresh hope to the city’s theater industry where an estimated 100,000 workers are currently out of jobs. No word yet on how long the wait is for “Hamilton.”
Another sign that the Big Apple is getting back to being the city that never sleeps is the return of the 24-hour subway service on May 17, which will coincide with the lifting of New York’s midnight curfew on outdoor drinking and dining.

Down in Florida, meanwhile, Walt Disney World Resort announced that it’ll be phasing out on-site temperature screenings for cast members starting May 8 and for guests on May 16.

A little further east, Bermuda has lifted its Stay at Home order and the island is now open with temporary restrictions in place, including an 8 p.m. curfew.

The Bahamas, meanwhile has begun letting in fully vaccinated travelers without needing to show proof of a negative Covid test.

A journalist looks at "The birth of Venus" painted in the mid 1480s by Italian painter Sandro Botticelli during a press preview for the reopening of the rooms dedicated to Pollaiolo and Botticelli, at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, on October 17, 2016. The articulation of the space has been reorganized for to faciliate the visit thanks to a large donation by the "Friends of Florence Foundation". / AFP / ALBERTO PIZZOLI / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION - TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP via Getty Images)

Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” is one of the big-hitters visitors can now see again at the Uffizi.

Alberto Pizzoli/AFP via Getty Images

International tourism hasn’t returned to Italy yet, but it was still a good week in traveler’s favorite Tuscany, as two major attractions reopened.
Florence’s Uffizi Gallery swung back into action on May 4 with a revamped second floor, featuring 14 new rooms and 129 works of art newly on display.
Meanwhile in Pisa, the Leaning Tower has been available throughout the pandemic as a backdrop for hilarious socially distanced photo opportunities — “hey guys, what if we pretend we’re pushing it back up?” — but as of May 1, it’s possible to get back inside the monument and museums of the world’s favorite wonky building.
Further south, the news out of Rome is that a new arena floor is being added to the Colosseum to give visitors an idea of how the ancient Italian structure looked when gladiators fought there.

The attraction was largely shut to the public during Italy’s coronavirus lockdowns and most recently reopened to visitors on April 26.

Closings

Munich's Oktoberfest isn't a natural fit for social distancing, so sadly it's been canceled again this year.

Munich’s Oktoberfest isn’t a natural fit for social distancing, so sadly it’s been canceled again this year.

Shutterstock

Oktoberfest, Germany‘s annual celebration of beer, lederhosen and hearty thigh-slapping, has been canceled for a second year in a row.

“The Oktoberfest is a Munich original and takes place exclusively in Munich,” a spokesperson for the Department of Labor and Economic Affairs of the City of Munich, said in a statement.

The Seychelles has been leading the world with its vaccination roll-out, with 61.13% of its population fully vaccinated. However, a recent rise in Covid cases has this week led the Indian Ocean archipelago to bring back restrictions for two weeks — schools are closed, sporting activities are canceled and a curfew has been introduced in bars.

Looking ahead

May 17 is set to be a magic Monday. In Asia-Pacific, a two-way travel bubble between New Zealand and the Cook Islands is set to finally open after months of planning. And in the UK, England and Wales will be opening up foreign travel — citizens will be able to make quarantine-free visits to a “green list” of 12 countries which currently include Portugal, Iceland and Israel.

Travelers are advised that countries’ “green list” status can be withdrawn at any time and to not book non-refundable trips.

Two of New York’s most legendary hotels have opening dates lined up: The Plaza, the French Renaissance-inspired monolith beside Central Park, is slated to reopen on May 20, while The Peninsula, on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 55th Street, will welcome guests on June 1.

The proposals, published by the European Commission, advised that arrivals must have been inoculated 14 days before arrival with a vaccine from its approved list.

St. Helena, the tiny island island in the middle of the Atlantic where Napoleon was once exiled and which only got an airport in 2017, is now fully vaccinated and will reopen to visitors from June 21. Its remoteness kept it untouched by travelers throughout the pandemic.

Strangest Covid measure of the week

You've got to be squidding me.

You’ve got to be squidding me.

YOUTUBE@TheTonarinopoti/REUTERS

A town in western Japan was criticized on social media for directing some of its coronavirus relief funds into building a statue of a giant squid, in a bid to boost tourism.

The 13-foot-high cephalopod which has popped up in Noto, Ishikawa Prefecture, has eight pink arms and zero protection against airborne viruses.

CNN’s Livia Borghese, Julia Buckley, James Frater, Rob Iddiols, Niamh Kennedy, Lilit Marcus, Rob Picheta and Vanessa Yurkevich contributed to this report.



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