The timeline for the COVID-19 vaccination program has now been confirmed, and there are now set times for the removal and phasing out of restrictions. The success of the lockdowns and the rapid rollout of the vaccines means that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
The US will have enough vaccines to vaccinate everyone by May, and people of all ages will be able to get vaccinated from May 1 onwards. Life will begin to go back to normal, and we can all start to plan our lives a little further ahead once more.
Obviously, the success of the vaccination program will have an enormous impact on the travel industry.
Will we be able to travel in 2021?
The simple answer is yes – traveling safely and guilt-free within the US is imminent, and overseas travel should be possible in 2021, even as soon as May! The full answer is a little more complicated, as even if the CDC removes their advice against foreign travel, every country will have its own regulations, requirements, and restrictions.
But it looks increasingly likely that jumping on flights to exotic locations and booking cruises in 2021 will be possible, with the appropriate flexibility and cancellation policies, of course.
Will we need a vaccine passport?
One idea that has been discussed within the travel industry as well as by governments around the world is that of the ‘vaccine passport’. This essentially would make travel to some locations contingent on having proof of vaccination, or perhaps the removal of restrictions or quarantine requirements if you can demonstrate that you have had the jab.
Vaccine passports are hardly a new idea – there are plenty of countries around the world that currently require visitors to show a yellow fever certificate, for example. But a coronavirus vaccine passport would probably need a digital, standard proof of vaccination, which could be a complicated thing to manage. The EU has announced a ‘Digital Green Pass’ that will allow those with vaccinations or negative tests to travel freely from June. Greece, Turkey, and Thailand have all announced plans to allow travelers with vaccines to arrive without restrictions.
Several travel organizations have taken this matter into their own hands and are already requiring passengers and tourists to show that they have been vaccinated if they want to travel. Several cruise lines are currently requiring proof of vaccination to get on board, while Qantas Airlines are working towards a similar initiative.
What measures are going to be a standard part of travel post-vaccine?
The travel industry has brought in a range of protocols and safety measures in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic over the last year, and the vast majority of these are likely to stay in place for the foreseeable future. Social distancing during boarding, alcohol gel and temperature checks, and mandatory mask use will all be with us during international travel for some time. Many countries are currently requiring a negative test result to be allowed through customs, as mentioned above, and this is unlikely to change unless some form of vaccine passport is implemented.
Will it be safe to travel?
After you have been vaccinated and have waited the recommended time after the shot, international travel should be safe. The vaccines that have been produced have demonstrated impressive efficacy, and even those tiny percentages who were still affected after vaccination only received mild symptoms. It is hard to be 100% certain when it comes to safety, but the overwhelming evidence shows that travel post-vaccine should be as safe as it ever was.