CLEVELAND (WJW)– If you’re planning to travel overseas, could you be required to show a vaccine passport? Some travel industry experts say yes, as international travel restrictions eventually loosen amid coronavirus vaccinations.
For now, travelers face new restrictions, including a U.S. ban on travel from more than two dozen countries, including most of Europe, by non-citizens as it works to keep dangerous strains of the virus out.
“Most of the world is currently off limits for Americans as we all struggle with the pandemic,” said Scott Keyes, founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights. “But that’s not going to be forever,. And I think later this year and potentially as soon as late this spring, you’re going too see a number of countries relax those restrictions.”
On Tuesday, the United States will start requiring all international airline passengers traveling into the country to provide proof of a negative coronavirus test within three days of travel or provide proof of recovery from the virus.
“It definitely is just kind of one more thing on a lot of travelers’ checklists,” Keyes said.
Reductions in travel are reflected in data from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, which shows the number of travelers in 2020 was less than half of what it was in 2019.
While new restrictions may deter some travelers, Keyes said others are locking down low-price, refundable airline tickets.
He predicts some countries may start requiring proof of vaccination, or a “vaccine passport,” as they reopen international tourism.
“I would imagine that within a few months that requirement of proof of negative test to enter the U.S. will be expanded to also include proof of vaccination,” Keyes said.
Dr. Keith Armitage, medical director for the University Hospitals Roe Green Center for Travel Medicine and Global Health, said research has found air travel to be fairly safe because of mask requirements, and airplane filtration and air circulation systems.
“For people who have been immunized, the risk of travel is very, very low,” Armitage said.
However, he said pharmaceutical companies are still studying whether coronavirus vaccines prevent transmission of the virus, which could affect the feasibility of vaccine passports.
“I don’t think we have enough data to say if that’s a good idea or not,” he said.
Meanwhile, some airports and even foreign resorts are beginning to offer coronavirus testing for travelers who need to comply with new testing requirements.
Armitage said travelers should be sure to plan ahead and check restrictions before traveling overseas. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Transmission has a list of COVID-19 travel recommendations and advisories.
“The the key before any international travel is look at the websites of any country you’re traveling to. Know the testing requirements, know the quarantine requirements, and the same for when you come back,” Armitage said.