Is It Safe To Plan International Fall Travel Right Now?
As the United States became more vaccinated against the virus, and other countries began their own vaccination rollouts, experts predicted that international travel will rebound by autumn if there is enough vaccine coverage. What does this mean for fall travel, with falling vaccinations as well as cases rising again worldwide due to the highly contagious Delta virus?
Although breakthrough cases in vaccinated individuals were expected and only mildly symptomatic, the Delta variant is changing the course for infections in areas that are not covered by vaccines. It’s also causing some restrictions. For example, after a spike in Las Vegas cases, employees are required to wear masks indoors and officials in certain places are warning not to travel to the area.
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“We’re at quite a junction now with the Delta variant, because what’s become apparent in the past few weeks is even vaccinated people, at a low frequency, are starting to get infected,” says Dr. David Freedman, an emeritus infectious-disease specialist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham whose COVID-19 research has focused on travel. “People don’t want to go away and get sick, especially somewhere they can’t get good medical care.”
Here are some things to think about if you plan on traveling in autumn.
Do I need to book fall travel now?
Experts say it all depends on your health and the epidemiological conditions in which you are traveling. Experts recommend that people with underlying conditions avoid traveling to foreign countries, even if they have been vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now provides country-specific travel advice. It ranges from a Level 4 alert (COVID-19 Very high) to a Level 1 (COVID-19 low). According to the CDC , people who have not been vaccinated should not travel internationally. Those who have been vaccinated should also avoid travel to Level4 destinations.
Freedman said that the future trajectory of COVID-19 in the U.S. is still uncertain. This is mainly due to the number of people who get vaccinated. The CDC collects data sets predicting future spread of the disease. According to Freedman, the trend in COVID-19 cases in the U.S. will be stable or uncertain. 92,000 to 83,000 new cases are expected to be reported during the week ending August 14, 2021. Most of those cases will occur among people who have not been vaccinated. For comparison, 332,000 cases were recorded in the previous week. However, it is important to note that COVID-19 incidences have historically increased in fall when people are forced back indoors by colder weather. Even if you are vaccinated, traveling can be dangerous for immunocompromised patients. Freedman states that people need to be honest about their health and should not travel if they have underlying medical problems. He points out that people who have been vaccinated are less likely to become seriously ill.
Are there any destinations that will remain open?
Many destinations that have recently opened their doors to summer tourists have already instituted restrictions because of the Delta variant. Many countries in Europe allow Americans to return. However, some have recently reimposed curfews as well as indoor-dining restrictions to stop the spread of the virus. For example, Greece has prohibited music from bars and set curfews at nightclubs like Mykonos. France, which allows only vaccinated visitors to dine indoors , will also require proof. Turks and Caicos have reduced the time it takes for visitors to obtain a negative coronavirus testing, which has been reduced from five days to three. Europe travel can also be halted at any moment due to terms in the European Union’s Tourism reopening. Member states have the right to halt travel at any point through an “emergency brake”, which is established by E.U. leaders. A digital health pass is available for Americans to use in the region’s tourism plans.
Michaela Moore, a travel consultant for Creative Vacations, says that the rules are constantly changing. She has clients who will be traveling to Europe and the Caribbean this summer. Moore said that it was difficult to keep up with the latest rules. She now advises travelers on how to make informed decisions about which type of travel to choose. She says that the most popular and easiest places to travel are Mexico and The Caribbean. Europe is slightly more challenging, but Moore believes it’s still an attractive option. Africa and Asia have been put on hold.
What can I do to protect my trip?
Moore recommends that you purchase the right travel insurance if you plan to travel internationally in fall. You should also make sure you only book changes to accommodations and flights in case there is a sudden spike in travel cases. In those cases, ‘Cancel for Any Reason’ insurance can be very helpful. It is usually separate from the standard trip insurance. This covers you for emergency flights home and alternative accommodation if you are in quarantine. Moore states that it is crucial for travelers to ensure they have international medical coverage. Most U.S. insurance providers don’t offer this type of coverage. You can also travel to countries that have better healthcare systems and are less likely to become overwhelmed by an unexpected rise in cases. Also, you might consider visiting countries that have high vaccination rates which make it less likely that a sudden outbreak will occur.
Moore says that “a lot of people are worried about COVID, even though it is not necessarily our fault.” “I give them the rules, provide all the information and then they can make the best decision about travel. Freedman suggests that we also watch for signs that travel restrictions may return after the summer and make it more difficult to plan for fall. This includes steadily increasing cases in the U.S. through the August. These could force other countries to get closer to Americans. Freedman states that if Delta does not get under control within the next month, there will be more bureaucratic obstacles. “If this doesn’t happen then countries will likely place even more restrictive restrictions on outdoor activities if it doesn’t.” Keep this in mind and plan your travel accordingly to avoid any unexpected changes in the case rate.