We’re in a ‘Have Vax, Can Travel’ world.
We’d started out as ‘have vax, will travel’ – but increasingly, the vax is required to travel.
I was interviewed by a top Canadian travel magazine this week. (I’ll let you know when it appears in print.) And one of the questions was:
What’s your stance on tour operators who are requiring travelers to be fully vaccinated in order to travel? Is this a positive thing among your clients?
And it was hard to limit everything I wanted to share on the topic. (The poor interviewer will have some fun trying to whittle down the word count.)
But here’s the crux of my response.
I am fully supportive about requiring travelers to be fully vaccinated to travel, and generally, my clients are too (at least the ones who are travelling with me). That requirement to be vaccinated in order to travel is becoming increasingly common– whether it’s a tour operator, an airline, a rail company, a river cruise company – everyone is requiring these days.
Honestly, anyone who has travelled much previously already knew about vaccine requirements for yellow fever, and inoculations/ medicines for everything like malaria, etc. And we all have that little yellow card in our wallets for our vaccine records, and our our children’s vaccine records. Vaccine requirements are, or will be, required to travel.
We already see requirements in Canada. Newfoundland began to allow fully vaccinated Canadians to visit on July 1st. So as soon as my youngest daughter was 2 weeks after her 2nd dose, my family of 4 headed to Newfoundland. It was a little wild for me to finally get on a plane for the first time since February 2020, but it was so wonderful to be in the air again, and travelling to reunite with family is the best. And you already are aware that I shared the flight experience with you and my clients in photos and blogs and my weekly newsletter, including stories about the airport lines, the limited availability of restaurants at airports, the travel care packages Air Canada gave out as you boarded the flight, the health and safety protocols onboard, and the arrival procedures in Newfoundland (where uploaded vaccination records where verified before you could enter the terminal).
Newfoundland is not unique around the world for showing proof of vaccines. Vax passports are becoming more common to eat at restaurants, and to go to bars or sporting events. We’ve already seen it introduced in
- Quebec Sept.1st https://www.quebec.ca/en/health/health-issues/a-z/2019-coronavirus/progress-of-the-covid-19-vaccination/covid-19-vaccination-passport
- BC Sept.13 https://www2.gov.bc.ca/vaccinecard.html and
- Ontario on Sept.22nd https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ontario-covid-19-cases-data-september-14-1.6174855.
And other provinces are going to follow.
We also have mandates in Canada for flights, trains, etc. https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/canada-air-rail-transportation-vaccination-requirement/index.html– and we’re seeing it in other countries, provinces/ states/ regions/ cities, etc too.
New York City –Vaccination Proof for Indoor Activities (Key to NYC) https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/covid/covid-19-vaccines-keytonyc.page and LA County https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-09-16/new-la-indoor-covid-vaccine-proof-mandate-what-to-know have introduced vaccine passports or vaccine cards to eat out too. We’ve reached a tipping point here. There’s no going back on vaccinations to travel.
I’ve also had clients go to France, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, and UK this month. Thankfully, they were all doubly-vaxxed Canadian citizens. But rules can change without notice. We saw that with the Netherlands introducing a change on Sept.3rd that took effect at midnight for US vaxxed travelers to quarantine. And while the Netherlands is now making changes https://www.afar.com/magazine/netherlands-drops-quarantine-for-vaccinated-us-travelers, the unvaxxed pax will still have to jump through huge hurdles.
I had a US client take a US river cruise, and rules about boarding the ship, and proving vax proof, came after booking but before boarding.
I’ve seen that with European river cruises too. Uniworld was the first to require testing to board, but that quickly followed with AMA https://ca.travelpulse.com/news/cruise/amawaterways-to-require-full-vaccination-of-passengers.html, Uniworld https://www.travelpulse.com/news/cruise/uniworld-now-requires-all-passengers-to-be-vaccinated.html and other river cruises requiring passengers to be vaccinated. Fortunately, all my clients (at least those who are travelling) have been fully vaxxed.
My job as a travel advisor is at least 3 times more complicated than it was before CoVid. Before I book anyone on holiday, I have to guide them through the constantly shifting requirements. I honestly don’t think I’d recommend any unvaxxed pax to travel internationally right now. Else, they’d run the risk of rules changing either before they go, or after they got to where they were and get stuck, or quarantined.
We’ve seen France https://www.gouvernement.fr/info-coronavirus/pass-sanitaire and Switzerland https://news.yahoo.com/swiss-impose-covid-19-testing-130518723.html?fr=sycsrp_catchallrequire clients to be vaxxed to enter or eat in restaurants. And the EU generally https://www.bbc.com/news/explainers-57665765River cruise companies require clients to be vaxxed to board now too. I had 3 Canadian doubly-vaxxed clients in France and Germany over mid-August to early-September, and the rules of entry, transit, and movement/ access were different for each trip. The world is still re-opening, and every country will set its own rules how and when they will accept pax. I’m hoping Chile https://www.travelmarketreport.com/Destinations/articles/Chile-Will-Open-to-Vaccinated-International-Travelers-on-Oct-1 and Argentina’s re-openings will get the Antarctica cruise season going again this year. But we all know rules can morph and evolve and change on a dime.
It’s wild, but as a travel advisor, I have to check not only my clients’ passports, but also their vaccine records right now. I have to check and recheck entry requirements for countries with tools like Sherpa https://www.visiontravel.ca/sheilagh/en/sherpawidget and IATA Timatic https://www.iata.org/en/publications/timatic/, and cross reference and check against each country’s specific rules. I also have to check not just that my clients are vaccinated, but also which vaccines they have. Many Canadians have AZ or a mixed dose regimen of vaccines (including our Canadian PM and our On Premier), and the rules of entry can differ for countries or cruise lines as to whether those with AZ or a mixed dose are considered fully vaxxed. But at least if clients are fully vaxxed according to the rules set out by their home country, we can at least start with that and move forward.
Overall, I welcome the requirements for all travelers to be fully vaxxed.
And if I had my d’ruthers, I’d also like there to be some sort of universally accepted vaccine passport for travelers. It would certainly make things so much easier for us all to travel the world rather than Quebec bar codes and Ontario lacking bar/ QR codes etc. But, I know I could be dreaming in technicolour for that to come in the near term.
But the requirement to have all travelers be fully vaxxed? Bring it on!