Deadlines, vaccines, and quarantines—could the future of travel be looking up for autumn and beyond?
After a steadily improving state of travel between global destinations over the summer of 2021—despite the multitude and variety of regulations from country to country—today we look at the possible positive progress for international travel over the coming seasons.
In Europe, the US, and the UK, governments and health organizations have been working diligently to find a suitable balance that contains the spread of the COVID virus and its variants while allowing movement for workers, family members, and tourists.
With each industry and economy taking colossal hits throughout 2020, the challenge to remedy those huge financial losses is paramount for governments and businesses alike while at the same time keeping transmission rates down and residents and workers safe.
2021 showed us we could travel, despite the setbacks
After the vaccination programs kicked off in 2021, the world started to see a little hope for simpler and wider-spread travel. Right now, we're still contained by all kinds of rules and regulations, varying by destination, depending on each government's decisions. But, slowly, the systems are simplifying, and it's the vaccination that's opening most of those doors.
The UK, suffering one of the highest death rates during its toughest months, has been fastidious with its travel rules, as it has been with the country's vaccination program. Eager to prevent any avoidable influx of cases or further variants, there seem to be many, often expensive, hoops to jump through.
However, as long as you play by the rules, you can enjoy a very traditional and typical break in London with almost all restrictions currently lifted.
The European Union is working towards a unified system for all of its member states. At the time of writing, each member state still dictates its own system, merely guided by EU recommendations. Once again, being fully vaccinated sits at the centre of almost all of its decision-making.
And the US has also announced that a new international travel plan is on the horizon, hopefully using data-driven contact tracing when they decide to lift their current travel bans, which will finally include travellers from the EU.
The golden rule for international travel—a COVID vaccination is your new best friend
One thing can be guaranteed—the COVID vaccination is at the centre of all the travel regulations. So, what are we calling 'vaccinated'?
Fully vaccinated seems to be the one thing every country can agree on.
For double-dose vaccinations—Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna options, for example—qualifying as fully vaccinated comes 2 weeks after the second dose was administered.
For single-dose vaccines—Johnson & Johnson, for example—it's 2 weeks after your vaccination injection.
Even with an appropriate vaccination, most travellers should expect strategic COVID testing at several points during their visit. Many will also be required to quarantine, too.
Depending on country-specific regulations, almost all will require a negative COVID test, carried out within two or three days before the flight. Another test is typically required on or a few days after arrival and often at regular intervals during each stay.
While each country doesn't always demand vaccination, those who aren't appropriately vaccinated are far more likely to incur stricter testing and quarantine durations. And there are still plenty of places that will restrict nonessential travel to the unvaccinated altogether, even as their borders open up to the rest of the world.
Just because you can, doesn't mean you should
Despite the world showing good signs of opening back up, there's a big warning sign on travel for those who are still the most at risk.
Certainly, the immunocompromised would be taking a significant gamble with their health—and ultimately their lives—venturing into areas where catching and contracting COVID is more likely, and that includes the transport methods as well as their final destinations.
Even when fully vaccinated, health and travel specialists advise anyone in such categories to postpone travel until it's safer for them to do so, and the risks to their health are significantly lower.
The more vaccinated we get, the closer to 'normal' travel should become
With many resident vaccination rates floating around the 50% mark, the spread and severity of the virus should decline the higher those rates become. The lower the threat of the disease, the more hopeful life should become for travellers.
For the majority of travellers who took the plunge, life felt surprisingly safe and normal
Scour the Internet for interviews and reports made by those who took international breaks during 2021, and the general consensus is positive. Okay, so you'd be remiss if you didn't research your destination's rules and regulations thoroughly and also the insurance policies you'd need in place to prepare for your worst-case scenarios. Still, once you're through with the travel, the locations and their attractions are beginning to feel much aligned with what we were once used to.
One of the most promising pieces to emerge was the article by euronews.com, where travellers told of both the logistics and atmosphere of their European vacations this summer. Each outlined the physical practices of the necessary COVID passports, testing, tracing, and just how normal and safe they felt in their chosen destinations.
There are, of course, alternative cases where rules and regulations have changed mid-stay, incurring penalties and costly quarantines, or the rush to end a break prematurely to avoid those unanticipated costs. However, we're seeing more and more reports of happy travellers enjoying their freedom far more than they expected during the summer months of 2021.
Travelling to London and the UK
The UK has a fairly strict entry regime, possibly due to the many deaths suffered throughout the pandemic and the desire to limit further challenges. As one of the fastest to launch and carry out their vaccination program, it has proved to get life back to somewhere close to normal.
Working on what seems to be the standard practice, for the time being, their traffic light system dictates different regulations for who can visit depending on where they're travelling from.
England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland all require a negative COVID test, taken within 72 hours of arrival, and the completion of a passenger locator form. The UK's traffic light system is set to simplify on October 4th, removing the 'orange' list, leaving only 'red' and 'green' countries.
At the moment, all non-UK residents travelling from 'red' list countries are prohibited entry to the UK.
When the simplified system comes into force, fully vaccinated travellers must book and pay for a COVID test to take on arrival in England, another on day 2 of their visit, and have proof of their vaccination.
For those not fully vaccinated, travellers must show a negative COVID test, taken within 3 days of travel, book and pay for an arrival test, a day 2 test, a day 8 test, complete the passenger locator form, and also quarantine for 10 days at home or the place you're staying.
For British or Irish nationals or those with residency rights in the UK, travelling from 'red' list countries demands booking and
paying for a departure test and a 'quarantine hotel package'.
For all the latest UK travel information and the 'red' and 'green' lists, it's all on the UK Government website.
Travelling to Paris and France
France dropped €103 billion in travel and tourism revenue in 2020, with the country's GDP dropping by 48.8% due to the COVID-
19 pandemic. To recoup some of those vast losses, the French Government is working hard to reopen its doors to travellers from
within the EU and further afield.
EU recommendations hope to set a standard, safe path through COVID. However, their guidance isn't legally binding, and not all
European countries are part of the EU either. So most will continue to make their own decisions and regulate travellers as they
For the latest on the EU traffic light system and each country's current status, the European Commission is a great place to start
If you're hoping to visit Paris or France, then for the time being, at least, if you're vaccinated, you're good to go—as long as you…
Have proof of vaccination
Show no symptoms of COVID
Haven't been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID in the 14 days prior to your visit
If you're not vaccinated, you can still enter France, but there are rules about testing and whichever 'red', 'orange' or 'green'
country you're travelling from. There are exceptions for work-related travellers, cross-border area residents, and hauliers, etc. For
the complete run-down and the latest stipulations, check the France Diplomacy website.
Travelling to the US and NYC
The CDC—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—strongly recommends travellers be fully vaccinated before taking
any international travel. However, they still hold a fairly inclusive list of prohibited traveller locations, which, hopefully, is expected
to change as more country's vaccination programs lower COVID rates and lessen the likelihood of transmission through travel.
Vaccinated travellers arriving in the USA are required to show a negative COVID test result within 3 days of travel or a document
showing proof of recovery from COVID in the past 3 months before boarding a flight to the USA.
Travellers must take a viral test 3–5 days after arrival, monitor for symptoms, and follow state and local travel recommendations.
Non-vaccinated travellers must show a negative viral test from 1–3 days before the flight or proof of recovery in the past 3 months
before boarding a flight. On arrival, travellers must take a further viral test within 3–5 days and quarantine for a full 7 days.
What might travel look like moving into 2022?
For the time being, the world is showing signs of opening up, as rising opportunities for international travel is back on the table
despite those additional processes included in the new normal's system.
After a tough time for travellers and the industry itself, what can we expect moving forward? What can we learn from the past year
and a half to avoid similar disruptions, if that's even possible?
While many opted to play it safe during 2021, bookings for holidays and international travel have surged for 2022, which means
continuing to deliver systems to keep travellers and destinations safe.
Although we're all hoping for a return to normal travel in 2022, it's likely to take a little longer before we see pre-COVID travel
standards. We'd certainly suggest doing your research on what's expected at your preferred locations, and also the new normal
of travel should definitely include the correct travel insurance to cover any and every COVID possibility.
UpperKey has the apartment for your next adventure
For now, though, the numbers are heading in a healthy direction, and there's hope for regular progress. Isn't that reason enough
to start planning where you're going on your next adventure?
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