This article first appeared on WSJ Noted here.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently eased restrictions on small gatherings, but the agency continues to counsel against travel, even for the vaccinated. That is because there is still a risk of getting and spreading COVID-19 while away from home, the agency said. Although Belize has waived the mandatory entry test for fully vaccinated traveler, majority of the world isn’t ready to roll back testing and quarantine rules just yet. As the pandemic continues, only a small percentage of the world’s population has gotten the jab. The CDC’s advice could change, according to a spokesman for the agency “as more people are vaccinated and we learn more about how vaccines work in the real world.” Here’s what you need to know right now, according to WSJ Noted.
1. There are restrictions on where U.S. travelers can go, even if vaccinated.
There are relatively few countries currently letting U.S. visitors bypass testing and quarantine rules if they have been vaccinated; among them are Belize, Iceland, the Seychelles, Georgia and Estonia. Even if your destination still requires a recent negative test, being vaccinated greatly reduces the odds you will test positive and end up in quarantine. However, you’ll still need to practice social distancing and wear masks for the foreseeable future, especially when you are in public with people you don’t know. Belize still requires face masks and social distancing in public.
2. You might have to show proof of vaccination, whether through a vaccine passport or a physical copy of your health records.
Mobile apps that could serve as vaccine passports all work by giving you proof of immunity in digital form that removes the need to show a paper document. The race is on to come up with a standardized, all-purpose mobile app that will let you summon your health data, from vaccinations to tests, in one tap. Existing apps have partnerships with airlines, such as Common Pass and Verifly, backed by United and American, respectively, among other airlines. If you are hesitant to download multiple apps, or share health data online, you might consider laminating the CDC card you get when leaving the vaccination site so it won’t disintegrate in your wallet.
3. Don’t expect abundant bargains on airline tickets.
“Cheap coach airline tickets will be scarce,” says Joe Brancatelli, who runs the road warrior site joesentme.com. With flights still down about 50% from before the pandemic, it might take time for airlines to restore capacity to their route networks. But, you might still score some good deals. According to the fare prediction site Hopper, which is betting that the window for finding the lowest domestic fares for summer will be from April 27 to May 7. International airfares will be lowest in the last weeks of both June and July, and in mid to late August, according to Hopper economist Adit Damodaran.
4. Epidemiologists say you can expect travel restrictions to lift, but to proceed with caution.
Everyone has different risk assessments, and your risk isn’t zero, even if you do get the vaccine, says Dr. Davey Smith, head of division of infectious diseases and global public health at the University of California at San Diego.
This means that even if you are vaccinated “you still have to take all the same measures and protections we had to do before,” says Dr. Jessica Justman, infectious diseases specialist and epidemiologist at Columbia University. “But we are encouraged by early results from the rollout; the vaccines we have in the U.S. provide excellent protection against a severe case of Covid,” she says. “To have that fear (of getting severely ill) taken off your shoulders is great. But we’re going to be wearing masks for some time.”