It was looking like a hopeful summer for travelers this year as vaccinations ramped up, but now the Delta coronavirus variant is causing a wave of new restrictions around the world. This post will look at the current situation and how it may impact travelers’ summer plans.
The Delta Variant
The Delta variant was first detected in India earlier this year. Since then, health experts have warned that the variant is on track to become the most dominant version of the coronavirus worldwide. Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) said it was detected in at least 92 countries.
The Delta Variant is much more contagious than other Coronavirus strains, but the two-shot mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) are still shown to be 88% effective against it. The WHO has said that fully-vaccinated travelers should still wear a mask as the variant spreads.
How The Delta Variant Is Impacting Travel Around The World
Most European countries have now reopened to vaccinated travelers, including Americans, they are stuck in the position of having to restrict foreign tourism or risk the rapid spread of the Delta coronavirus variant.
German chancellor Angela Merkel has called for a coordinated EU response for travelers from countries with high levels of the variant, which tourism-dependent countries like Spain have pushed back against.
Britain has been badly hit, with the Delta variant now accounting for 90% of new infections in the country.
As a response, some European Countries have implemented new policies aimed at British travelers, whilst others are expected to join them in the coming days.
Meanwhile, Portugal, Spain, and Germany have all issued new travel restrictions.
Germany introduced a two-week quarantine for people coming from Portugal and Russia, and as of Monday, non-vaccinated Brits traveling to Portugal need to go through a two-week quarantine.
While many were hoping for a UK-US travel corridor this summer, it has now been ruled out due to the Delta Variant, along with complex political issues and uncertainty over the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The Delta variant currently accounts for 20% of new cases in the US and is on track to become the dominant variant in the country. However, it is not equally spread across the country. The Southeast and the Midwest have higher concentrations of the variant.
“The delta variant is currently the greatest threat in the US to our attempt to eliminate Covid-19,” said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
If infection rates continue to go up, it could prompt travel restrictions for Americans from other countries.
Restrictions in Asia, Africa, and Australia
Restrictions are spreading past Europe as well. On Sunday, South Africa introduced a nightly curfew and a ban on gatherings while Malaysia extended a nationwide shutdown.
Although Israel has one of the world’s highest vaccination rates, a jump in cases in recent weeks caused authorities to reinstate the indoor mask mandate.
Taiwan added new restrictions for people arriving from 7 high-risk countries including Britain, and on Monday Hong Kong said that it was banning all passenger flights from Britain.
While most countries seem to be restricting travelers from Britain at this point, this new variant could impact other nationalities if it spreads to similar rates within that country.
Australia is on the verge of a national coronavirus outbreak with the Delta variant seeding new clusters across the continent, which could potentially delay its reopening even further.
How The Delta Variant May Impact Summer Travel
The Points Guy spoke with Dr. Jenny Yu about how the variant may impact travelers’ summer travel plans. In the interview, she said that travelers should weigh vaccination status, health risks, and local regulations when thinking about their summer travel plans.
She said if you are vaccinated and continue to wear a mask, the risk remains low of being infected by this new variant. Still, travelers should remain flexible in their travel plans as Delta variant is likely to continue to impose new restrictions.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories