Covid: Will vaccines be essential for future holidays?
The steady COVID-19 vaccine rollout and the lockdown lifting has renewed hopes for the summer holidays. After maintaining strict social distancing guidelines and being cooped up indoors for the better part of a year, a holiday will be a refreshing change of pace. But will it really be that simple?
The Australian airline Qantas Airways has announced plans for making COVID-19 inoculation compulsory when flights start again. Saga Holidays has also expressed similar proposals for vacationers. Cyprus’s government has revealed plans to let vaccinated British holidaymakers enter the country without any restrictions from May. Other countries and airlines may soon adopt a similar trend of screening.
With COVID-19 vaccines fast becoming more available, the current attitude to future international travel raises questions regarding its effectiveness and any potential solutions it may offer.
Do COVID-19 vaccines actually prevent transmission?
Studies carried out at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge and at Oxford University have proven that the vaccines aid in significantly lowering the spread of coronavirus.
However, there is still no evidence to suggest the vaccines can fully stop transmission of the virus.
Will COVID-19 vaccines become vital for holidays in the future?
There is a likely chance many governments may make vaccinations a compulsory requirement to enter their respective countries. Given that upcoming research data does confirm that vaccinations can eradicate the threat of further spread. And that vaccinations become more widely available and easily accessible worldwide.
With multiple studies underway, there is still no proof that vaccines can stop the spread. As such, the EU has proposed introducing a Digital Green Certificate that will enable free travel through the EU. To avail of this system, travellers will either have to be vaccinated, prove they have tested negative, or verify that they were previously infected by COVID-19 and have successfully recovered. Thus, many countries may also choose to follow the EU’s more moderate approach, where a negative test result or proof of previous infection and recovery may be sufficient for border crossing.
While not every country will require travellers to be inoculated for entry, the means to reach their borders is a different matter. As mentioned above, Australian airline Qantas has already announced plans to make vaccinations compulsory when international flights restart. Many carriers are likely to follow suit. However, it is doubtful that all future flights will require their passengers to be inoculated. A few airline companies, including Ryanair and Aer Lingus, have stated that they do not plan on such measures.
For international travel, prerequisites will probably amount to a combination of testing and vaccines in the days to come.
Will there be vaccine checks at the border?
As mentioned above, many countries may impose rules requiring visitors to be vaccinated prior to entry. And as such, there may be vaccine checks in the future.
Australian prime minister Scott Morrison has stated that Covid-19 jabs will be made mandatory for citizens. So, it is reasonable to assume that this verdict may extend to international visitors as well.
If vaccines become a requirement at your desired destination, details can be found listed on the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)’s website.
Can I still go on holidays without being vaccinated first?
It is entirely dependant on the country you plan to visit.
Some countries, such as Turkey, already stated that they would not require tourists to be vaccinated this year.
On the other hand, several other countries are discussing ‘Covid passports’ or ‘Covid green certificates’ for travel. Greece and Israel have already started to issue Covid certificates to citizens who have been vaccinated.
Until the restrictions on holidays ease, it is difficult to say with certainty which countries will allow visitors who are not vaccinated.
What if I booked a holiday without being vaccinated?
Travel companies (including cruise liners) are legally required to inform you about your holiday destination’s health and safety requirements. When booking holidays with them, they must let you know if you are required to be vaccinated. However, they are not obligated to offer a refund if you booked a holiday and could not produce proof of vaccination.
If you cannot be vaccinated due to medical reasons and have a doctor’s note confirming it, you may be allowed to travel without vaccination, even if it is a requirement.
However, if you were unable to get vaccinated before your planned vacation and you choose to cancel, it will be deemed ‘disinclination to travel’, and standard terms and conditions will apply.
In case you have not been or are unable to be vaccinated, it is advised that you wait until there are specific travel policies in place before booking a holiday in 2021.
Will my travel insurance cover me if I cancel holiday bookings because I could not vaccinate?
As mentioned previously, if you cancel your holiday booking because you could not meet the vaccine requirement of your intended destination, it will be considered ‘disinclination to travel’. Travel insurance policies do not cover disinclination to travel. Therefore, you will not be able to claim back the costs of cancelling.
Turning down the Covid jab may also have an impact on your emergency medical cover. Your travel insurance policy may specify vaccination-related exclusions. For instance, if you travel to a country without getting the NHS-recommended shots and end up contracting a disease, the vaccine would have protected you against it, your policy may not cover you.
As of now, no Covid vaccine-related exclusions have been incorporated in travel insurance policies. It is something to keep an eye on in the future, as many travel insurance companies offer cover coronavirus infections while on holiday.