The way the world moves and travels has been upended this year. Borders closed, curfews were enacted and airlines, boats, trains and buses had to enact capacity limits to help curb the spread of coronavirus. People all over the world are getting accustomed to a new normal, and the travel industry is too.
As the world approaches the one year anniversary of a global pandemic, many of us are starting to feel extra wanderlusty. The itch to travel is growing as the months wear on. You want to make plans but you’re not sure how things will change. A big question many travellers may have is, “Will I need an immunity passport to travel in 2021?” We at inspire4travel want to know too. Here’s what we know so far.
Pharmaceutical companies are on the verge of rolling out coronavirus vaccines to the general public, and the travel industry is poised to make a big comeback. A welcome relief for the struggling tourism industry. Some countries have already started to distribute them to high risk populations and frontline workers.
Once the vaccine is widely available, airlines may ask for proof of vaccination. This will safeguard them against being a contributor to the spread of the virus. And even with the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccine, social distancing and face coverings will continue to be a non-negotiable requirement for all persons wishing to travel by air, train, bus and boat unless medically exempt.
Although digital vaccine passports are currently being developed and tested according to the IATA International Air Transport Association, most airlines have not yet decided on whether or not they will mandate that travelers be vaccinated in order to travel.
The IATA Travel Pass, as it’s being called for now, will not only show whether or not a traveler has been vaccinated, it can also provide COVID-19 test results.
CommonPass is another form of pandemic travel documentation that works with a traveler's smartphone and 230 US health systems. It’s been developed by the nonprofit Commons Project. Not only is it a likely possibility that airlines will want this new type of travel documentation, the border authorities of many countries may also want to see proof of immunization to curtail the spread of the virus within their country.
So far, it looks like most domestic travel will not require immunity passports, but international travelers may encounter the requirement. Pre-departure COVID testing could be an alternative to vaccination or required for domestic travel. Although developments and big ideas are happening in the industry, there hasn’t been too much said to the public on exactly what travelers should expect in 2021.
Some countries already require vaccination against yellow fever for travelers coming and going from high risk areas, like Brazil and Uganda. So health passports are not a new thing. It should be noted that immunity and vaccination are two different things.
It is yet to be determined how long immunity lasts once contracting the virus and after receiving a vaccine. It is also not known if vaccinated persons can carry the virus. Travel is definitely going to change in 2021, so stay tuned in.