Healthy Summer Travel Tips in an Unpredictable 2021

BY SANDRA GUY

You’ve heard the horror stories: Crowded airports, fights in line between exasperated travelers and misbehaving passengers who refuse to wear their masks.

Yet you’re ready to burst to get away from your COVID cocoon, even amid rising prices for gasoline, lodging and scarce rental cars. Average hotel rates have soared to as high as $275 a night, a 75 percent jump from the past two summers, according to market tracker RateGain.

Steel yourself for more inconveniences, experts say. Masks, frequent handwashing and hand sanitizer are still smart habits to maintain, largely due to a surge in COVID-19 cases in 45 states.

The reason? A combination of unvaccinated people — including children, teens, and people in their 30s, 40s and early 50s — and the highly infectious Delta variant. In 45 states, the rates of new COVID-19 cases the week of July 11 were at least 10 percent higher than the rates of new cases the previous week, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The Delta variant has prompted some cities and states to expand their voluntary quarantine rules, too, so check state and city websites for guidance before you pack your bags.

Chicago, for example, added Missouri and Arkansas to its list on July 13, advising anyone entering the city from those states to test negative for COVID-19 or quarantine upon arrival.

“Any unvaccinated people traveling from Missouri or Arkansas are advised to obtain a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 72 hours prior to arrival in Chicago or quarantine for a 10-day period upon arrival,” the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) said. “CDPH continues to stress the importance of getting vaccinated for COVID, and adherence to all masking guidelines for travel.”

CDPH said data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows “COVID case rates have been steadily increasing in other areas of the country,” highlighting Nevada, Louisiana, Utah, Wyoming, Florida and the U.S. Virgin Islands as states at risk of passing the threshold “if trends continue.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic is not over, and this only goes to show that the virus is still very much a threat and that we must all remain vigilant against it,” CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a statement. “That means getting vaccinated and wearing a mask in public settings if you are not fully vaccinated.”

Cruises, overseas travel, and interstate travel rules for people both fully vaccinated and for those who aren’t comprise a complicated patchwork, so do your research.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises no international travel for Americans unless you’re fully inoculated against COVID-19. You can check the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/map-and-travel-notices.html for travel updates.

As with any potentially risky travel, look for an insurance policy that covers cancellations, safety precautions and trip credits as outbreaks continue.

Check into the Digital Green Certificate system if you’re traveling to Europe. It covers different types of COVID-19 certificates — vaccination certificate, test certificate and certificate of recovery — and no quarantines will apply to those bearing the certificate.

But only vaccines that the European Medicines Agency has approved are recognized: BioNTech-Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Janssen Pharmaceutica NV.

See more details at https://ec.europa.eu/info/live-work-travel-eu/coronavirus-response/safe-covid-19-vaccines-europeans/eu-digital-covid-certificate_en

The bottom line: Stay put until you do your research, are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and obtain the necessary insurance and other safeguards.

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