Covid-19 Vaccine Travel Updates
As more people across the globe receive the Covid-19 vaccine, people might be more willing to travel. While getting the vaccine can minimize travel restrictions, there are still many factors to consider. Here are the latest Covid vaccine travel updates to help you plan your late winter and early spring trips.
Vaccine Passports For International Travel
International travel remains at historically low levels, but a vaccine passport may help countries reopen their borders sooner. Governments are currently favoring pre-travel diagnostic testing to waive the mandatory quarantine on inbound travel. Immunity passports, showing proof of the coronavirus vaccination, are becoming more popular.
There are several vaccine passport initiatives, and several countries have already announced that they are developing a passport, like Israel and Bahrain. Many member nations of the European Union are also embracing the idea through the European Commission.
For now, most countries are launching their passport programs. As the vaccine becomes widely available and technology improves, an international standard passport may launch.
Regardless of the vaccine passport app, travelers can upload their vaccination history to the immunity passport. Authorities can scan a QR code to quickly verify if the traveler meets the entry requirements or must quarantine for several days.
These immunity passport programs will launch between early 2021 and the summer of 2021 for most countries.
To waive the quarantine, a traveler can expect to get both rounds of the vaccine and then wait 14 days for antibodies to develop. The traveler can enter countries without restrictions using the immunity passport by following this vaccination schedule.
Does The United States Have A Vaccine Passport?
A Biden Administration Executive Order calls to “assess the feasibility of linking Covid-19 vaccination to International Certificates of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP) and producing electronic versions of ICVPs.” There currently isn’t a nationwide immunity passport program for the United States. But, there is a possibility a national passport will arrive in the future.
For now, U.S. states and private businesses in the travel and entertainment industries may launch their passports programs.
Hawaii Vaccine Passport
Hawaii appears to be the first state to implement a vaccine passport program. State health authorities said they plan on giving essential workers an electronic code as soon as March 1, 2021. This code makes it easier to waive the mandatory 10-day self-quarantine.
The next rollout step is giving vaccinated Hawaiian residents a code. This step can happen as early as April 1, 2021.
Tourists could enroll in this program in the third step. Hawaii is partnering with the CLEAR Health Pass to make their Vaccine Passport program a reality.
Currently, Hawaii requires a 10-day self-quarantine for returning residents and tourists. It’s possible to waive the quarantine with the pre-travel testing program by having a negative COVID-19 diagnostic test before flying to Hawaii.
Mandatory Quarantine For International Travel
All U.S. residents and non-U.S. residents arriving in the United States from a foreign country must quarantine for seven days or show proof of a negative COVID-19 test. A follow-up test is necessary 3-5 days after returning to the United States to waive the quarantine. This new CDC policy went into effect on January 26, 2021.
Wearing Masks On Public Transit Is Mandatory
There is now a federal mask mandate for all public transit, including:
- Commercial airplanes
- Ships and ferries
Masks are also mandatory at “transportation hubs” like airports, train terminals and bus stations. Most travel companies and transit hubs required masks before the February 2021 federal mask mandate. Now, those who don’t comply can be charged with breaking federal law and pay a fine.
Where Can Americans Travel Overseas?
Americans can travel to several countries across the globe. Most are in the Caribbean and Latin America corridor.
Mexico has the fewest travel restrictions and (perhaps) some of the best weather for this time of year. It’s possible to fly to Mexico without having a pre-travel test or vaccine passport. You won’t have to observe a mandatory quarantine either.
However, the land border crossing between the U.S. and Mexico remains closed to non-essential travel.
Latin America And The Caribbean
Central American countries and most Caribbean islands are open for tourism. However, the entry requirements are slightly different for each nation. In general, travelers can expect to obtain a pre-travel test to waive the mandatory quarantine. Travelers may also have to stay at an authorized resort for the entire stay and purchase add-on health insurance.
Some of the destinations Americans can fly to include:
- Costa Rica
- Dominican Republic
- St. Kitts and Nevis
- Turks and Caicos
The Rest Of The World
Outside of the western hemisphere’s tropical part, it isn’t easy to fly across the ocean. Certain countries in eastern Europe are open for travel. Albania, along with Bosnia and Herzegovina, are two examples. Western and central Europe is only open to essential travel at the moment.
The Maldives continues to be the most exotic yet remote place that Americans can fly to. Travelers will need to take a pre-travel test and stay at their approved pre-booked resort to waive the mandatory quarantine.
Travelers will also need to download a contact tracing app to keep on their phones during the trip. Other international places, like the Caribbean islands, have a similar app. This app is currently separate from the immunity passport apps that countries are rolling out.
United States Travel Restrictions
Several states require a mandatory quarantine or a pre-travel diagnostic test to waive the statewide travel restrictions. Currently, frontline workers and senior citizens in most states are the ones to receive the vaccine. Needing an immunity passport for interstate travel may not be realistic until late 2021.
These states are discouraging out-of-state visitors traveling for non-essential reasons:
- New Mexico
- New Jersey
- New York
- Rhode Island
- New Hampshire
While the state of Illinois doesn’t have a statewide travel order, the city of Chicago requires a 10-day self-quarantine or a pre-travel test for visitors arriving from a “high-risk state.”
The travel restrictions vary by state. Most states with a 10-day quarantine let travelers waive the quarantine with a qualifying pre-travel test. Others may require travelers to quarantine until getting a follow-up test after 3 to 5 days.
New Mexico is one state with the most stringent travel restrictions. Travelers and returning residents must self-quarantine for 14 days. A negative diagnostic test doesn’t waive the mandatory quarantine.
A COVID vaccine isn’t necessary to travel out-of-state or for international travel since the vaccination isn’t available to the entire general public yet. But, more states and countries require pre-travel testing to waive a mandatory quarantine. Today, travelers can upload their test results using an airline travel app. But in a few months, they may be able to share their vaccination dates too.