What Travel Looks Like Right Now

What Travel Looks Like Right Now

It’s been a while since we hosted a webinar providing an update on the travel industry and the current COVID pandemic.  Allan Wright, our Owner and President, hosted an informative and engaging Travel Well Update webinar last night covering the following topics:

  • Update on the Delta variant for travelers
  • Our experiences on recent tours
  • Potential for the EU to drop the US from its “safe travel” list
  • Whether vaccinated travelers will be exempted from quarantine
  • Risks of traveling abroad
  • Procedures for entering back into the US

You can view the recording of the webinar below – we’ve also listed out the main topics Allan covered for your reference.

Update on the Delta virus

  • Dominant variant in the US
  • 2X more contagious than previous variants
  • Two studies have shown it has more serious effects
  • Unvaccinated people are thus at very high risk right now
  • Cases are surging
    • Current seven-day moving average of cases is 114,190
    • 65% lower than peak on January 10
    • 883% higher than the low on June 19
  • Breakthrough cases of vaccinated people are much higher
    • Symptoms are usually not severe
    • People are infectious for shorter time
    • Unclear if asymptomatic infected vaccinated people are infectious
  • Increasing cases, hospitalizations, and deaths of youths

Our experiences on recent tours

  • We continue to run tours
  • Require everyone to be tested, recently infected and recovered, or vaccinated
  • Mask wearing is light
  • Have not had any known cases of infection

Our recent experience at the Wine Media Conference

  • 142 attendees
  • All were vaccinated
  • Some mask wearing but not ubiquitous
  • One positive case after returning home
  • No other reported positive cases means we likely did not have transmission at the conference
  • Possible the person was infected before or after but we don’t know
  • Our policies were a success

Recommendations

  • CDC recommends wearing masks indoors when in areas of “substantial” or “high” transmission
  • This is most of the US
  • My recommendations:
    • Get Vaccinated
    • Wear masks indoors
      • Especially in larger groups
    • Associate with those who are vaccinated
      • Do not go into bars
    • Get tested if you have exposure to someone who is infected
    • Be much more cautious if you have an unvaccinated child
  • On our tours:
    • Vaccine, negative test, or recent infection and recovery required for US tours
    • Vaccine required for all foreign tours
    • Still maintaining our travel bubbles
    • Greater emphasis on masks in vans
    • Eating outdoors as much as possible

Restrictions on unvaccinated people

MAJOR change in the United States in the last three weeks:

  • Vaccine Mandates (or weekly testing)
    • 720 colleges requiring vaccinations
    • US Military
    • Federal government (or weekly testing)
    • CA and NY State Government (or weekly testing)
    • Hospitals
    • California teachers
    • Major companies
  • Restrictions on Unvaccinated
    • New York City and San Francisco ban on restaurants and gyms
    • Sporting events requiring vaccine or negative tests
  • New: Germany to charge for COVID tests for unvaccinated
  • Other countries: Indonesia and Turkmenistan mandating vaccines for everyone

Restrictions in Europe

  • Pretty much universal requirement of vaccination, recent negative test, or recent infection and recovery to go into restaurants
  • Recent negative test is not sufficient for travelers
  • We require vaccination for all European tours

Potential for the US to drop from EU “safe travel” list

  • European Union has a “safe travel” list
    • US added June 16
    • Allows entry without quarantine
  • US cases now make us ineligible for that list
  • Will the EU drop the US? It’s complicated:
    • Much of the world and including Europe might become ineligible
    • EU needs US travelers
    • They have rules in place and so probably will do so

Exemptions for Vaccinated Travelers?

  • The EU would probably love to exempt vaccinated travelers
  • However, the US still bans EU travelers
  • US announced August 5 we are looking at allowing vaccinated travelers
  • Good news from Friday: Germany removed US from its safe list and requires travelers to be vaccinated
  • My prediction: EU will remove US from “safe travel” list (or scrap list entirely), allow vaccinated travelers, and hope the US reciprocates
  • As of now, travel to Europe is still possible

Risks of traveling abroad

  • If you are vaccinated, there is really no higher risk of traveling than staying at home
  • US requires test to return home and it is possible to get infected (and stuck in Europe)
  • If you travel safely and within your bubble, that risk is low

Procedures for entering back into the US

  • Requires negative COVID test
  • Antigen (rapid) test okay
  • Many hotels can arrange this
  • Can make appointments at most airports

Conclusions

  • We have the ability to conquer this virus
  • We will not because of the nature of humans
  • Ultimately, it is possible almost everyone will catch COVID
  • This likely won’t be serious if you are vaccinated
  • Get vaccinated, take precautions, but proceed with your life

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