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Will You Soon Need a Vaccine for Domestic Flights?

Fodor's logo Fodor's 3 days ago Apeksha Bhateja
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Travel rules and guidelines are still changing around the world. While some countries are reopening borders, others are tightening restrictions in the wake of the Delta variant. Fully vaccinated travelers are being welcomed by more and more destinations and proof of vaccine is becoming more common. But updates and changes continue to roll in, so we’re helping you navigate through myriad rules and news—this is the latest from the industry.

Do Vaccines Have an Expiration Date for Travel?

Two European countries, Austria and Croatia, have set vaccine expiration dates. What that means is that travelers will need to check when they were vaccinated before traveling to these countries. Travel for fully vaccinated travelers will become a little trickier after this new rule and it’s possible that other European nations will follow the lead of Austria and Croatia.

For Austria, validity ends 360 days after the second dose or 270 days after inoculation with a single-dose vaccine. A booster dose extends the validity for an additional 360 days, the embassy clarifies. For Croatia, the date of vaccine can be no older than 270 days for it to be valid for entry. Both countries allow U.S. travelers to enter. Check other requirements for Austria and Croatia before you plan your trip.

Will There Be Vaccine Requirements on Domestic Flights?

While some airlines have mandated vaccines for their employees (United and Hawaiian), there’s still no rule for passengers to be fully vaccinated in order to fly. However, the nation’s top coronavirus adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci is in support of a vaccine mandate for fliers. In a podcast interview with theSkimm, the infectious disease doctor endorsed the idea, saying, “If you want to get on a plane and travel with other people, you should be vaccinated.”

He also told MSNBC that testing requirements and vaccine mandates are not yet decided, but they are under consideration, CNN reported.

After his comments, the U.S. Travel Association released a statement opposing the vaccine mandates. Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy Tori Emerson Barnes stated, “U.S. Travel has long maintained that there should be no mandatory vaccination requirement for domestic travel. Such a policy would have an unfair, negative impact on families with young children who are not yet eligible to get the vaccine.” He added that the mask mandate can keep travelers safe, pointing to studies by the U.S. Department of Defense and the Harvard School of Public Health

Previously, United and Delta CEOs have pointed out that vaccine mandates will be difficult logistically, which is a valid concern.

Passengers have been harassing airline staff over mask mandates. U.S. President Joe Biden asked people to show some respect and announced more fines for unruly passengers who refuse to wear a mask. The fines have doubled from $250-$1,000 to $500-$3,000. This came with the stringent vaccine rules on federal employees and healthcare staff in a bid to push people to get vaccinated.

What Are Vaccine Travel Lanes?

Singapore has introduced Vaccine Travel Lanes (VTL) that allow fully vaccinated travelers to travel between the island nation and two countries, Germany and Brunei. From September 8, Singapore citizens and permanent residents can travel to Germany without mandatory quarantine. Travelers from these countries can also visit Singapore without undergoing quarantine if they meet all requirements.

Before traveling to Singapore, all travelers need to take a COVID-19 test, register and pay for COVID-19 test on arrival, submit an SG Arrival Card, and self-isolate until they test negative. They must book a VTL flight and take two more tests on Day 3 and Day 7. Short-term visitors are also required to apply for a Vaccinated Travel Pass (VTP), register on the TraceTogether app, and get travel insurance. Check out full details here

More countries are expected to be added to this list as the country reopens after strict border measures. 

Singapore has been serious about Stay Home Notice (SHN) for travelers arriving in the country—people have been fined and jailed for breaking quarantine. Singaporeans haven’t traveled for leisure in more than a year, so these new guidelines will come as a relief.

What New Destinations Are Opening in Thailand?

The Land of Smiles has been reopening its borders in phases since July. Fully vaccinated travelers have been allowed to visit Phuket, Krabi, Surat Thani, and Phang-Nga without mandatory quarantine under Phuket Sandbox, Phuket Sandbox 7+7 Extension, and Samui Plus Sandbox programs. 

From October 1, there will be more destinations added to the list. Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chon Buri, Phetchaburi, and Prachuap Khiri Khan are set to welcome foreign travelers under their “universal protection” guidelines. Local populations are getting vaccinated, while the tourism authority is also planning campaigns for these destinations, the statement said. In mid-October, 21 more destinations are slated to reopen from Lamphun in the north to Trang in the South. The fourth phase of the program will introduce travel bubbles between its 13 border provinces and neighboring countries.

The country is also launching stimulus packages to encourage domestic tourism: We Travel Together and Tour Thiao Thai. The government will offer subsidies on hotel room rates or airfares and daily vouchers in its “We Travel Together” campaign and up to 5,000 Baht ($150 USD) per person on packaged tours in the “Tour Thiao Thai” campaign.

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