Has COVID-19 changed the way we travel indefinitely?

With the first doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine being administered here in the UK this morning, does this mean we can finally get excited about travel again?

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Unfortunately there is a long way to go. To be considered ‘immune’ takes two doses of the vaccine administered three weeks apart. Only 800,000 doses have arrived in the UK, meaning this will vaccinate 400,00 people – most of those will be administered in care homes and to health/NHS workers like myself. For the majority of Under 50’s with no underlying conditions, there will be quite a wait.

What about immunity passports?

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There is much talk surrounding the roll out of immunity passports in the UK. This would give those who have been vaccinated a ‘freedom pass’ to travel freely worldwide. The Vaccinations Minister has said the Government have no plans to bring out an immunity passport – just a week after announcing it was being considered. While the NHS Vaccinations card are said to only be a reminder of when to get the required second dose, is there a chance that these could eventually be used as immunity passports?

While many see the possible introduction of immunity passports as an infringement on human rights, personally i would be happy to carry one if it meant life returned to a good level of normality.

While accepting the vaccine is not mandatory but ‘encouraged’ – it is heavily questioned wether or not refusing the vaccine will affect your freedom. Sports venues, and many hospitality venues are said to be some of the first which will require proof before entry. People should have the right to accept/decline the vaccine, but perhaps on the premise that your ability to do things such as travel on a cruise ship could be denied if unvaccinated. Given the average age of guests on certain cruiseliners – i wouldn’t be surprised to see this policy adopted in the near future.

But will this be the same with airlines? In terms of in the UK, 54% of brits have backed a ban on air travel for unvaccinated people and with many airlines being privately owned, they are at liberty to request what they like. The CEO of Qantas Alan Joyce has stated that ‘Qantas will demand proof of vaccination to fly in 2021’. Truth be told, i think this will set a precedent for other airlines, particularly those long haul such as Emirates, Qatar etc and in countries which have controlled the virus well (Hong Kong, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia & New Zealand to name a few).

I expect what countries will want to know is, will the travellers vaccination mean the population of the country they are travelling too are not at risk?

So how has COVID-19 changed the way we travel?

Certainly nobody expected 2020 to be anything like it was. A year that has taught us to be grateful for everything we have. As the world shut down, so did travel – so what will be different when it opens up again fully?

Planning trips will become joyful again! Isn’t this just one of the best bits of travel? the planning, the excitement building – with no worries about COVID-19 ruining it.

No questions asked changes on tickets. Airlines would do well to permanently scrap cancellation/change fees on fares. This has been a welcomed policy throughout the pandemic, and one which should continue.

Hygiene should always have been, but will be a priority. One of the most shocking parts of this pandemic, was learning how many people do not wash their hands to a good standard. Antibacterial soap practically flew off the shelves, raising the question – what were you using before? I wonder if many will be anxious to travel freely, without face masks or social distancing?

We should view travel as a privilege. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted how much of a gift travel is. It was easy to travel multiple times a year and forget how lucky we were, now this has been taken away from us – we can’t take it for granted again.

Travel will become more sustainable. While the grounding of flights has undoubtedly welcomed an environmental bounce back, when travel returns fully, it is the hope that airlines will go further with their environmental commitments and introduce a more considered approach to travel.

How do you think COVID-19 has changed the way we will travel?

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