When will it be safe to travel again?
When it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic, experts on Wednesday’s NewsdayLive webinar “Health & COVID-19: Is it Safe to Travel Again” say the answer is no one knows for certain — and the landscape changes by the day.
The safest bet?
Anne Lischwe, travel sales manager, New York & New Jersey, AAA Northeast, and Dr. Matthew Projansky, emergency physician, Plainview and Syosset hospitals, Northwell Health, agree that if you’ve been vaccinated, wear a mask and maintain social distancing and hygiene protocols you’re probably going to be OK.
Especially, if you travel domestically via car or personal vehicle with others in your safety bubble.
But, both experts said, rules and regulations change every day for planes, trains and even the cruise industry, which is on the verge of resuming sailing from some foreign ports.
And, Lischwe said, while most AAA travel partners are enforcing everything from face masks to social distancing protocols, several states have lifted mask requirements — and so ask a lot of questions and do a lot of research on requirements before you go.
To that end, Lischwe and Projansky said, would-be travelers should familiarize themselves with some helpful websites.
AAA has a national COVID-19 map on its site, AAA.com/covidmap, where travelers can check on the latest state-by-state requirements. The International Air Transport Association, IATA.org, offers information related to international travel and requirements, Lischwe said.
Other important sites include those of the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the experts said.
In fact, the CDC site lists international restrictions and recommendations, complete with color-coded hazard levels for each country — rated from Unknown risk levels and Level 1 countries, which have very low reported COVID risks, to Level 4 or very high reported risks.
Australia, New Zealand, Greenland, Papua New Guinea, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Bhutan, China, Taiwan and Uganda are all currently at Level 1, while India, South Korea, Mauritania, Sierra Leone, Benin, Rwanda, Mongolia and Iceland are all at Level 2.
Do you need those COVID-19 vaccination cards?
Probably, Lischwe said, though she said the AAA hasn’t seen a lot of official information on how they will factor in.
“That card is going to be super important,” Lischwe said, but cautioned: “We just don’t know what that looks like yet.”
If you want to travel in the future, Lischwe said, start planning now, since prices likely will increase — at least early on — as more resorts, cruise lines, airline seats, train berths, resorts and nations begin to reopen. Mostly, she said, there will likely be limited capacities, probably for much of the near-future.
That’ll mean high demand. And, high prices.
Meanwhile, if you do travel, even on a car trip, bring plenty of masks, hand sanitizer and even a can of disinfectant spray, the experts said. And wear a mask even if the state or place you visit has lifted restrictions, the experts said.
“If you’re wearing a mask, somebody else is wearing a mask, and you’ve been vaccinated, your risk is very very low,” Projansky said.