This Tuesday, California will lift its social distancing requirements and allow companies to operate at full capacity. The mask mandate will also end, but there are a few exceptions. If you are planning to travel soon, keep in mind that health restrictions for COVID-19 change based on the type of travel, location and time.
While most health restrictions in California are about to be lifted, it is important to remember when planning your trip that each country has its own approach to tackling the pandemic. (Malaka Gharib / NPR)
What do I need to know about international air traffic at this stage of the pandemic?
First of all, you have a lot of company. International air traffic is expected to increase this summer. Americans are thinking of a European vacation again. “We had people who asked a lot about Europe,” says Kendra Thornton, Royal Travel & Tours travel advisor for the Chicago area. “Not necessarily to book, but want to keep an eye on it.”
In addition, US citizens with family members in other countries long for a reunion after a pandemic-related separation. People can also travel abroad for work.
You will encounter quite a number of travel restrictions and entry requirements.
NPR correspondent Jason Beaubien was surprised to see his face on a giant screen at an airport in Sierra Leone, where thermal scanners simultaneously measure the temperature of everyone in the crowd. The airport staff takes anyone who registers a fever aside for assessment.
Travelers traveling to Peru should pack a face mask. You have to wear it in crowded spaces like an airport.
In addition, the protocols can change with new variants, such as highly contagious delta variant, spread and gain a foothold in different countries.
So if you feel like going abroad or have already booked a trip, you probably have a lot of questions. Here are some guidelines that can help you deal with the new rules for international flights:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says you should get vaccinated before you go.
According to the health authority, air travelers should be fully vaccinated regardless of the risk level in the country they are visiting. There are still a lot of viruses around.
Keep an eye on the ever-changing guidelines and restrictions for your travel destination.
You can have specific travel needs through the U.S. Department of State website or the Foreign Affairs Office or Ministry of Health of your destination.
In addition, the CDC Notes on traveling to other countriesthat are rated from “very high” to “low” (including China, Iceland and Rwanda).
Avoid countries in the “very high” category unless it is strictly travel.
There are 60 countries on this list, from Argentina to Yemen.
Some countries are closed to visitors, but make exceptions.
Belgium, Canada, Great Britain and Uruguay are some examples. However, some of these non-visitor countries may make exceptions for the death or serious illness of a family member. If this is your circumstance, you may be able to visit. But the authorities couldn’t / won’t take your word for it. Expect to be required to provide evidence of the reason for the visit, such as a death certificate or medical certificate stating a family member’s illness. You can inquire about the rules in your destination country by contacting the American embassy or consulate there, or the country’s embassy in the United States.
And on this matter there are changes almost daily, so it is good to keep an eye on the official website of the State Department or the country for any updates.
Some travel advisors recommend keeping a copy of your COVID-19 vaccination card or having a photo on your phone as a backup when you travel. (Chandan Khanna / AFP via Getty Images)
Bring your vaccination certificate.
Some countries want to see your vaccination card, so make sure your official CDC vaccination card is filled in with the date of your dose or doses (if you received a two-dose vaccine). It’s a good idea to make a copy of the map or have a photo on your phone as a backup, suggests Thornton, the travel advisor.
Contact your vaccination provider or contact your national health department’s vaccination information system.
You can also show the World Health Organization’s international vaccination certificate, also known as a yellow card. You can ask your vaccine provider to add your COVID-19 vaccination information if you already have a card. Or if you need one, you can purchase one through the US government bookstore, which tells NPR that sales have increased 55% in the past six months.
Tickets are behind schedule but should be available by the end of June. Or you can buy one from WHO, which means you have to wait at least a week for it to be shipped from Switzerland.
The WHO International Certificate of Vaccination, also known as a yellow card, is another way to verify that you have received the COVID-19 vaccine. You can ask your vaccine provider to add your COVID-19 vaccination information if you already have a card. (Sean Gallup / Getty Images)
What about vaccination apps?
Vaccine apps showing your file may also be accepted, but there is no guarantee that border controls will accept this as evidence, so it is a good idea to bring a paper file.
Citizens of the European Union will soon have a digital COVID certificate system that provides a scannable QR code to check vaccination status and coronavirus test results. This should facilitate travel between Member States but will not help a vaccinated tourist from outside the EU.
Airlines try to help their customers meet the vaccination and testing requirements of different countries by developing their own apps. The International Air Transport Association has launched its own IATA Travel Pass that many major airlines around the world will use.
But officials say it is a misnomer to call it a vaccine pass, as many people are.
“It’s more like a digital ID that’s tied to your vaccination or testing profile,” says Nick Careen of IATA. “With this, the consumer can support him on his passenger journey.”
British Airways, Japan Airlines, Qatar Airways and Emirates are among the global airlines testing the IATA passport app, which is due to go live shortly.
Other airlines, including American, will be using an app called VeriFly.
Preston Peterson of the American told NPR that “since entry requirements differ from almost every country and in some cases from region within a country,” the app “gives customers the assurance that they are complying”. other regulations. “
“A customer can submit their records, have their records reviewed, and then get a green check mark, or effectively an OK, on the travel status that we as an airline trust, the customer can trust and then they know they are ready to go,” says Peterson, adding added that the app is updated in real time when the entry requirements for different travel destinations change.
A coronavirus test sign at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on February 4, 2021 in Los Angeles. (Patrick Fallon / AFP via Getty Images)
However, proof of vaccination may not be enough to make your entry easier.
In some countries it doesn’t matter whether you have a vaccination card as it can be easily forged or forged, or a digital vaccination card in an app. They still insist on a PCR test to see if you are infected several days before flying in and out of their airports. Most countries ask airline staff to review the test. A positive result means that the journey has been aborted. This is the case in Egypt, some European countries and Israel. And you can’t leave Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel after arriving in the country without getting a coronavirus test. Airport staff lead everyone to the clinic tent directly after baggage claim.
Even if you’ve been vaccinated and tested negative for the coronavirus, you may need to be quarantined. Samoa, for example, requires all arriving passengers to be quarantined for at least 21 days.