a beach with umbrellas and palm trees

If there’s one word that’s starting to become really annoying, it’s “indefinite”. Like: you will now be asked to stay in your home indefinitely, or you cannot travel, indefinitely. News around the world in recent hours, minutes and days points to many temporary travel bans being extended indefinitely, which means there’s no longer a soft date opening date for when the world can move again.

Stay Home, Indefinitely

Many countries including the UK, Japan, Australia and Singapore placed expiration or review dates on their initial travel restrictions, giving citizens and visitors a soft target for when they may move freely again. Those near future targets are now being extended, indefinitely.

There’s nothing more important than obeying safety advice, staying home and socially distancing right now, but it’s sad to see these milestones pass.

The UK just updated its non essential travel ban from an April 16th end date to “indefinite”. It’s absolutely the correct move, but one that diminishes hope for near term adventure and throws greater uncertainty to an already uncertain world.

Japan, seeing a small surge in new cases has also declared a state of emergency and closed its border to national of 70 countries indefinitely. Two days ago, Hong Kong did the same.

Indefinite doesn’t necessarily mean these bans will last any longer than the proposed end dates, but it’s generally a sign that they will. They could be lifted tomorrow, or in two years. More than anything, it means no more guesswork until further notice.

Looking at the official IATA country by country travel restrictions, these are but a few mere examples of places you cannot, or should not really leave, and most likely cannot enter. Some countries aren’t even allowing citizens, or permanent residents to return.

a woman standing in the waterIndefinitely Is Not Forever

Experts modeling the spread of this health crisis predict that the worst is near – within weeks – or has actually already passed in many parts of the world.  That absolutely doesn’t mean it’s over. The USA is the last of the major waves still reaching their peak, with most of Europe, Pacific and Asia now trending down in cases.

Until the US experiences its very worst, the world must wait and see, while also monitoring for new emergence or recurrence. Indefinite definitely doesn’t mean forever, it just means there’s no point in putting a number on things, until the global waves finish their crest.

If you were looking for a ballpark date, most reports suggest late May or early June as a possible scenario when enough will be known and more testing will be available to ease restrictions. It may take months for countries to bilaterally open doors, but it’s something to hold out for.

Until you hear otherwise, stay home, stay safe, and keep dreaming of travel. It’ll return, and you’ll never take it for granted again. That’s at least one positive, right?

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. One should also realize that “indefinite” can mean sooner OR later.
    By removing an artificial date, governments can hopefully make real-time decisions based on current data and ever-changing models.

  2. Does the indefinite end date mean that any bookings made now for future travel (eg booking a holiday for 2021) wouldn’t be covered by travel insurance as it would be travel against government advice?

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