Travelling in 2021: What Does the Covid Vaccine Mean for Travel?
13 Jan 2021
Despite the UK being placed into another restrictive lockdown at the start of this month, there is hope for the travel industry to be reignited later this year, as countries from all around the world begin approving the use of the Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford/AstraZeneca, and Moderna coronavirus vaccines.
Now the first two vaccines are being administered in the UK, how will this scientific breakthrough affect travel in 2021?
What’s the Latest Update?
As of 4th January 2021, the UK has been placed into its third lockdown of the pandemic to control the spread of the virus. However, there is hope on the horizon, in the form of three vaccines which are currently being rolled out across the country: the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and the Moderna coronavirus vaccine.
The UK government is hoping to vaccinate 15 million UK residents - the over-70s, healthcare workers, and those required to shield - by mid-February so that the most clinically vulnerable are protected, and lockdown restrictions can begin to be relaxed.
How Effective is the COVID-19 Vaccine?
The UK began its COVID vaccination programme on Tuesday 8th December 2020, immunising the elderly and clinically vulnerable with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. In trials, after 2 doses, the vaccine has shown to have 95% efficacy against Covid-19.
Since then, the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has also been approved for mass vaccinations, with immunisations having begun on Monday 4th January 2021. Again, this vaccine shows a high defence against contracting Coronavirus, having proved up to 90% efficient in its trials after 2 doses.
There are also other vaccines currently being developed around the world, including the recently-approved American Moderna vaccine, with trial tests showing that the vaccine is 94.5% effective.
Will Things Return to Nomal Soon?
Although it’s hoped that the current vaccination programme will mean restrictions begin to ease by the spring, not everyone in the country will have been vaccinated.
Over the next month - providing there are no production issues - the UK is due to receive 40 million Pfizer/BioNTech doses and 100 million of the cheaper, easier to store Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. The government has also secured 7 million doses of the Moderna vaccine which is due to arrive in the spring.
At the top of the list to receive the vaccine are healthcare workers, those in care homes, the elderly and other high-risk individuals. For the majority of those aged 50 and under, there may be quite a wait, meaning social distancing measures and other safety restrictions will still need to remain in place.
If Restrictions Are Eased, Can We Travel in 2021?
In order for restrictions to be relaxed far enough for domestic and international travel to take place with ease, a number of tests will need to have been met. The government and the scientific advisory board have stressed in numerous press conferences that this will only be possible if the R rate comes down, and if the NHS is not stretched. Even though we have access to two coronavirus vaccines - and in particular, the easier to administer Oxford vaccine - both require a huge logistrical effort to roll them out.
In addition, the return to ‘normal’ travel will also largely depend on restrictions in foreign countries. Some countries, such as the UK, have travel corridors in place, which mean you can travel to and from them without the need to self-isolate. However, many countries across the globe have closed their borders entirely, meaning all international flights are suspended to and from those countries.
With that being said, the travel industry has welcomed the news of the vaccine roll-out as a positive development, and hopes it will lead to a certain amount of relaxation later in the year.
Coronavirus travel advice: If you have plans to travel at any point during this year, you should make sure you are familiar with the rules around travelling to and from your destination. More guidance can be found on the UK government website.
What Has Been the Reaction to News of the Coronavirus Vaccine?
Understandably, lots of people still have anxiety around travel, with the National Geographic reporting that 49% of their readers said they would “travel less due to concern of exposure to other people.”
However, according to recent reports, news of the Coronavirus vaccine trial successes have led to a surge in people searching for 2021 summer holidays.
A study carried out by Club Med showed that despite the new UK lockdown coming into force, holidaymakers have been searching for travel far and wide, with top destinations including the Maldives, Mexico, and Thailand. In Europe, towards the end of 2020, the organisation apparently saw a 214% increase for bookings in Kamarina, Sicily, compared to the same time the previous year.
Meanwhile, the UK’s biggest tour operator TUI has said that Greece and Turkey are its most popular summer holiday destinations for 2021, with a spokesperson saying; “Our current booking trends show that customers are locking in their summer holidays now so they have something to look forward to.”
Will I Need to Have a Covid Vaccine to Travel?
There has been no official word on whether individuals will need to have a Covid vaccine to travel. However, some are speculating that an e-vaccination certificate or ‘immunity passport’ could be required in the future to prove that the holder has been vaccinated against coronavirus.
Airlines such as Qantas have already suggested that they are considering changing the terms and conditions to require vaccination, saying that ‘we think it is a necessity’ for anyone looking to travel on-board their aircrafts.
Whether an airline or transport operator can require you to have a COVID vaccine before travelling with them will depend on the country they are based in and where you are. But in general, most private companies are allowed to put such rules into their terms and conditions.
What About Travelling to the UK from a Foreign Country?
On the 8th January, it was reported that the UK government has introduced a policy that meant anyone travelling to the UK by plane, train or boat, will need to test negative for Coronavirus before being able to travel.
There are exemptions to the tests, including:
children under 11
those travelling from countries without the infrastructure to deliver tests - although details of those have not been released yet
arrivals from the Common Travel Area with Ireland.
According to the UK government website, the COVID-19 test needs to be taken up to 72 hours before leaving the country they are in.
What Travelling Can I Do Right Now?
Unfortunately, none right now. The UK is currently in a national lockdown, with an enforced ‘stay at home’ order upon all residents. You may only leave your home for essential purposes, including; shopping for basic necessities; going to work - if you cannot reasonably do so from home; and to seek medical assistance or avoid injury.
A full and comprehensive guide to the UK lockdown can be found on the UK government’s official website.
However, if you do have hopes to travel or go on holiday later this year, you should spend some time to research the places which are enabling travel, what measures they have in place, and how you can best keep yourself and others safe when travelling in the future.
Our Bus Services Continue to Run in Cambridgeshire for Essential Travel ONLY
To help ensure our keyworkers and other passengers can carry out their essential travel, our bus services in Cambridgeshire continue to run at a regular service.
Take a look at our bus service timetables in Cambridgeshire.
[NOTE: This article submission was created and uploaded on 13th January 2021. All information was correct at the time of writing.]