Home Traveling guide Omicron and Holiday Travel: 12 of the most pressing questions

Omicron and Holiday Travel: 12 of the most pressing questions


Vacation travel suddenly feels busier as the world awaits emerging information on the transmissibility and virulence of the novel variant of the coronavirus. Scientists are rushing to see if current vaccines offer protection against Omicron, but many families and other travelers may need to consider various factors now before setting off to see loved ones or for a change of scenery.

“Once again, they will have to make informed decisions,” said Kathy Risse, a pediatrician in Seattle. But unlike the holiday period last year, Dr Risse said: “We know so much more about stopping transmission, and widespread testing is underway.”

For those planning to travel, the basics of protection – vaccinations, masks, and social distancing – will help make travel safer. Here are the answers to 12 of the most pressing travel questions right now.

Currently, there are no vaccine, testing, or quarantine requirements to travel to the United States, whether you are traveling by plane, car, or train. But masks are still required by the Transportation Security Administration for passengers ages 2 and older on planes, trains, and buses. Different states, and even cities within states, may have their own requirements for masks, tests, or vaccines for activities such as indoor dining. Local health department sites or the AARP website are good places to start researching a state’s coronavirus rules.

Again no, but CDC guidelines recommend that people delay travel until they are fully immunized.

Current CDC guidelines do not recommend international travel if you are not vaccinated. If you choose to travel internationally, it can be complicated: your desired destination may have different rules and guidelines than in the United States. Take Mexico, one of the most popular destinations for American travelers. The country does not require vaccinations or entry tests, regardless of the nationality of the traveler, while other countries, such as Japan, Israel and Morocco, have recently closed their borders to non-nationals. To visit Canada, foreign visitors must show proof of vaccination and negative results from a PCR or nucleic acid test. (Unvaccinated children can accompany vaccinated adults to Canada, but must follow a specific set of protocols, including health questionnaires and testing for the virus.)

The rules for these and other countries may change at any time, so it is best to continue checking official government websites as your travel date approaches. The Times maintains a list of countries open to U.S. citizens, and the CDC maintains a list of Covid hot spots around the world.

Again, it’s complicated. For travel from the United States, vaccination requirements depend on your destination. The websites of the US embassies are good sources of information, as are the tourist and health websites of the countries for the desired destination. Age requirements may also vary depending on the destination.

US citizens do not need to be vaccinated to return to the United States, but most adult foreign travelers do. Exceptions can be found on the CDC website. Children under 18 are exempt from compulsory vaccination.

The United States recently changed the timing of its testing requirement to re-enter the country. Travelers are now required to submit a negative virus test result taken within one day of flight departure, instead of the previous three-day requirement for vaccinated travelers. This applies to all travelers aged 2 and over, regardless of nationality or vaccination status.

It is important to note that the requirement is “one day” rather than “24 hours”. For example, for a flight leaving on Sunday at 3:00 p.m., the test must be taken at any time of Saturday or at any time of Sunday. This gives passengers more flexibility to schedule their test anytime the day before the flight or the same day, rather than scheduling a night test for a flight the following evening.

Not a bad idea. The Food and Drug Administration has approved 13 at-home Covid tests, and families may want to bring some during the trip to use if someone comes down with a sniffle or cough, or to take just before arriving home. mother. They can be hard to find in-store or limited to one or two per customer, so don’t leave this rush to the last minute.

Family members can have varying risk tolerances, and home testing can help people relax and enjoy the company of others, Dr. Risse said, “because although it is imperfect, it adds another layer of protection “.

The CDC specifies which tests are permitted for entry into the United States. Self-tests for the virus are acceptable if there is an accompanying telehealth service providing “real-time remote supervision via audio and video connection”. Your hotel or local family members may be able to direct you to other testing options in the country, such as at medical clinics or pharmacies.

The rules vary depending on the cruise line. On Disney cruises, passengers 12 and older must be vaccinated, but this age drops to 5 as of January 13. Children under 5 must be tested for the virus negative within three days of departure. Princess Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line only welcome vaccinated travelers aged 5 and over. Currently, children under 5 are not allowed on board. Royal Caribbean requires that guests aged 12 and over be vaccinated.

There may be additional requirements for cruises docking in other countries. Travelers embarking on a cruise to Barbados, for example, should download the BIMsafe app and follow its instructions. It is best to check with each cruise line for current rules and protocols for a specific navigation.

Cruise lines have reason to be concerned because “their whole image as an industry is at stake,” said Lynn Minnaert, associate clinical professor at New York University’s Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality . “They take vaccinations and tests seriously, so passengers who are mindful of the risks and take common sense precautions should have a safe experience.”

The CDC always recommends that people who are unvaccinated or at risk of serious illness (regardless of their vaccination status) avoid traveling on cruise ships around the world, including river cruises.

Theme parks are required to follow state rules. Disneyland in California and Disney World in Florida require guests 2 years of age and older to wear masks indoors, in rows, and in closed transportation, except when actively eating or drinking. Universal Studios in Florida recommends masking indoors but has no coronavirus-focused guest requirements.

Fully vaccinated, as defined by the CDC as two weeks after the second dose, is not the same as fully protected. Cases of rupture do occur, but they are usually mild. Scientists are still reviewing the incoming data to determine whether the vaccines will protect against the Omicron variant. In the meantime, the CDC’s advice still stands: Children 5 and older should get vaccinated to protect them and those around them from Covid-19 disease.

Keeping a mask on a young child when traveling can be difficult for children and parents. Here are some ideas to help your child stick to the rule: Practice wearing a mask together days or weeks before the flight to get them used to the feeling. Take it easy and don’t fight. Try different masks for comfort and fit. You can bring different ones to “change” to make things fun or have a matching mask for a stuffed animal. If your child is agitated during the flight, stay as calm as possible as they will take their emotional cues from you. And consider resorting to bribery – more screen time, or bring small, wrapped gifts that they can open whenever they’ve been on the mask for a while.

It can’t hurt, especially if you are traveling to see older or immunocompromised relatives, regardless of their immunization status.

“Families come and ask me a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ as to whether they should travel because they are tired of doing day-to-day risk assessments,” said Dr Risse, the pediatrician. But each family must make their own decision to travel, depending on the importance of their trip, how well family members are protected, and how much trust they have in other travelers to follow the masking rules. and social distancing that keep people safe. They should also be aware of the levels of cases at their destination and the level of exposure presented by their potential activities. That is, eat in a restaurant inside or stay in a hotel instead of a private residence.

Vivek Garg, chief medical officer of the primary care business at health insurer Humana, encourages travel when CDC guidelines are followed. “It is important for everyone’s mental health, especially that of the elderly, to socialize with our friends and family,” said Dr. Garg.