Is it safe to plan an international fall trip now?

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This year, as much of the United States has been vaccinated against the coronavirus and other countries have staged their own vaccine deployments, experts have estimated that international travel will rebound by fall, if enough people were vaccinated. But with overdue vaccinations and cases rising again around the world thanks to the highly contagious Delta variant, what does this mean for fall travel?

While breakthrough cases among vaccinated people were still expected and mostly show mild symptoms, the Delta variant, now widespread in the United States, is changing the course of infections in under-vaccinated areas. And that leads to some return restrictions: After a spike in cases in Las Vegas, for example, city workers are forced to hide inside again, and officials in some places warn against travel. In the region.

“We are now at a pretty big junction with the Delta variant, because what has become evident over the past few weeks is that even people who are vaccinated, at low frequency, are starting to get infected,” says Dr David Freedman. , an infectious emeritus. disease specialist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham whose COVID-19 research has focused on travel. “People don’t want to go away and get sick, especially somewhere where they can’t get good medical care. “

If you’re planning to travel this fall, here’s what to consider to maintain or postpone your plans.

Should I book a fall trip now?

According to experts, it depends on your state of health and the epidemiological situation you are going to. People with underlying illnesses should reconsider traveling abroad even if they are vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which now offers country-specific travel advice ranging from an alert from level 4 (very high COVID-19) to level 1 (low COVID-19). In general, unvaccinated people should avoid international travel, according to the CDC, and those who are vaccinated should avoid non-essential travel to Level 4 destinations.

As to how travel will be affected over the next few months, the trajectory of COVID-19 cases in the United States remains uncertain, Freedman says, mainly because this trend will depend heavily on the number of people who decide to get vaccinated. According to the CDC, which collects national data sets predicting the future spread of the disease in the United States, “Newly reported COVID-19 cases will remain stable or have an uncertain trend, with 92,000 to 803,000 new cases likely reported. during the week ending in August. 14, 2021 ”, with the vast majority of these cases occurring among unvaccinated people. (About 332,000 cases were reported in the past week, for comparison.) It should be noted, however, that COVID-19 cases have historically increased in the fall, when colder weather pushes people back to inside.

For this reason, traveling could be risky for people who are immunocompromised, even if they are vaccinated. “People have to be honest with themselves, and if they have any underlying health issues, it’s really the people who shouldn’t be traveling,” Freedman said. The bottom line, he notes, is that people who are vaccinated are much less likely to get seriously ill.

Will the destinations remain open?

Some destinations that have recently opened to summer tourists are already reimposing restrictions due to the Delta variant. While many countries in Europe are re-allowing Americans, some have recently reinstated curfews and indoor dining restrictions to slow the spread of the virus. Greece, for example, has banned music in bars and imposed curfews in nightlife spots like Mykonos. France, which only allows visitors who have been vaccinated, will also start requiring proof of vaccination to dine indoors. In the Caribbean, Turks and Caicos reduced the time allowed for visitors to acquire a negative coronavirus test, shortening the window from five days before arrival to three. Travel to Europe could also be interrupted at any time thanks to the conditions built into the reopening of European Union tourism: Member states can suspend travel at any time via an “emergency brake” established by the leaders of the European Union. ‘EU. The region’s tourism plan is based on a digital health pass made available to Americans.


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