Rapidly Evolving Travel Regulations When Covid Restrictions Ease

vaccinated person using digital health passport app in mobile phone for travel during covid-19 pandemic

As media reports plans to start the world travelling again, we see governments and airlines starting to really think about how this will work. There must be a uniformed approach to the operation of the much discussed vaccine passport. We see many nations making it a condition of entry to be vaccinated. Most major airlines have already stated that you must have such a passport to fly with them. Others are about to announce their plans.

Whilst many European countries opened up to the U.S., a few months ago, this is gradually being reversed, France being the main leader. In Australia Qantas, which was early to say that only vaccinated passengers will be carried, has also said that it will only operate international flights from the states that keep to the national plan. Another plan, Qantas is evolving, will be to use Darwin as its hub for nonstop flights to the UK and other European cities. Their normal hub for this is Perth, but Western Australia may not work with the rest of the country in regard to state border opening dates. It is a good idea for Qantas to operate non-stop from either Darwin, or Perth to Europe, eliminating additional S.E Asian, or Gulf States hubs.  

Vaccine passports

Vaccine passports are not a new concept. Many countries already have the modern version of this in place. Don’t forget vaccine passports have been around for decades in the form of the Yellow Card Booklet.

In collaboration with the international I.T. company, Accenture; the Australian Government has announced its plan to proceed with vaccine passports for international travel. The government is currently developing a QR code with the International Civil Aviation Organisation IATA, which already has a flight vaccine passport in beta test with some airlines. Once that is done, Australian vaccine certificates will be internationally recognised.

Once vaccine passports are put in place, travellers would be asked to upload vaccination proof to a QR code linked to their passports. Only through the QR code could it be revealed if a person is vaccinated or not.

Coordinated Procedures and Rules.

The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA), Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) and European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Associations (ECTAA)—which together represent the interests of hundreds of thousands of travel agency and related business workers worldwide—are collectively calling upon global government leaders to align their policies in order to restart international travel as safely and quickly as possible. Border reopening, they opine, should be made an immediate priority.

The coalition is therefore appealing to government leaders all around the world to “create an aligned and synchronized response” by 1) promptly developing a clear, universal set of testing and vaccine standards; 2) relaxing entry restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers.

Travel Insurance

Then there is insurance to consider, often forgotten about and now much more important than many realise. As more travel opens travel insurance will adapt and refine itself to the evolving situation. Certain major airlines – Emirates and Etihad – were quick to include a COVID related travel insurance cover within their ticket price. This was just enough to help in the likes of Europe, the UK and some Asian destinations, but was not adequate if you went to the U.S.

We now see insurance companies devising policies that will allow a COVID implication cover – IF YOU ARE FULLY vaccinated – another indication of the importance of a vaccine passport. Many countries will deny entry if you do not have travel insurance.

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