One of the first things you see on the CDC site for "international travel" is:
- Do not travel internationally until you are fully vaccinated.
But the reality is that not everybody is on board with that directive. This article from TPG walks us back about a year ago and up to where we are now. Early in 2021, I recall that the prevailing sentiment was that getting shots into arms was the key to restarting the airline/travel industry, which had been battered by the virus and subsequent lockdowns worldwide. A debate began, and continues, on whether vaccines should or should not be required. When destinations began reopening for tourists this past summer, a number of them opened to unvaccinated travelers with few limits. But the Delta variant altered approaches and changed popular sentiment about what unvaccinated people should be permitted to do.
As of Nov. 8, while travel to the U.S. opened up, foreigners must be vaccinated to enter the U.S. and unvaccinated Americans can return but with stricter requirements. Many more governments are requiring vaccinations for travel into their countries, and in many places it is challenging to get a COVID-19 test when there are usually tight windows for the unvaccinated to meet their requirement. Now with a new surge of COVID-19 infections in Europe, most anticipate that travel will remain more difficult for the unvaccinated.
This additional article from CNBC shares:
Unvaccinated people are eager to travel again. But more and more, the rules make that harder. Travelers are increasingly required to show proof of vaccination before they can cruise, book group tours, avoid quarantines, or vacation to tropical islands. Beyond that, vaccines are needed for everyday activities including attending some universities, returning to the workplace or eating in restaurants. More cities and companies — from Paris to New York, from Disney to Fox Corp. — are issuing vaccine requirements of one sort or another, paving the way for others to follow.
While most locations are not making actual mandates, they are creating "near-mandates" as many countries push for making it more challenging or less comfortable for those who are unvaccinated. Looking around, we see:
- "People 'unvaccinated by choice' in Singapore no longer can receive free covid-19 treatment"
- "New COVID-19 Restrictions Are Making Unvaccinated People More And More Isolated"
- "COVID: Austria restricts unvaccinated people from public spaces"
- "Mandatory Employee Vaccines – Coming to A State Near You?"
On Nov. 9, the UK became the latest country to introduce vaccine mandates, announcing that all NHS workers would need to be jabbed by next spring. For more related to COVID vaccine mandates around the world, try this article from The Guardian.
Imposing vaccination requirements is a way to keep travelers and the public safe from COVID-19. What the travel industry and governments seem to disagree on, however, is whether vaccination should be required for travel. The delta variant’s spread has prompted many destinations to shift away from COVID-19 testing in favor of mandatory vaccinations — or a combination of the two. So, even with the most prominent travel associations calling for no vaccination mandates, it appears they’ll be shouting into the void for now, given the ongoing pandemic and concern about future variants that could be far worse than delta. That means, even if the travel industry disagrees, COVID-19 vaccine requirements are here to stay.