Saga and the Vaccination Certificate
We have all lived in this new and strange Covid-19 world for nearly a year now, but as we enter further weeks of the third national lockdown and as more and more of the most vulnerable and over 70s receive one vaccine or another, many of us have at least wondered whether we will get to enjoy a holiday abroad in the future, and whether that is going to be a possibility in 2021.
If it is then how may it come about?
Tour operators have spent a great deal of time thinking about answers to this, and in an interesting recent development Saga, who are a travel firm providing holidays and cruises exclusively for those over the age of 50, have become the first to publicly outline what they will expect of their customers.
The first point to note is that Saga will not commence its holiday programme until the 1st of May, which is still around three months away.
So what will be required of those customers who book with Saga? Firstly all members of the travelling party must have received their full two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine at least 14 days pre departure. Travellers will need to show "a vaccination document" or other evidence they have had their full vaccinations. Saga say that if you have already booked a cruise and cannot comply with this they will offer either a different date or a refund.
There will also be a requirement that travellers take a Covid-19 test at the departure terminal which results in a negative result.
It would appear that Saga made this decision after asking a number of their customers, many of whom indicated that they thought that this requirement would protect them and also give them the peace of mind that other customers would also have had a vaccine. It is certainly true that whilst there is pent up demand for travel there is also a significant desire amongst customers for safety. Travel and holidays can be stressful enough in "normal times" and we cannot say we live in normal times at present.
Saga have also confirmed that they will reduce the maximum number of customers per cruise, will step up their cleaning regime, and provide more medical staff and facilities.
It will be interesting to see how and when other major players in the Travel Industry outline their plans for safe travel going forward, but it is not difficult to imagine that many may follow SAGA's lead.
And of course, as ever as far as Covid-19 is concerned, there are the great unanswerables- will cruise passengers (even vaccinated ones) be allowed to leave the liner and go on shore abroad? Countries may take the view that even vaccinated people could transmit the disease so may not be keen for British visitors to wander about their streets particularly if their own vaccination programme is not so advanced as the one in Britain.
And what sort of responses are in place should there be an outbreak of Covid-19 on a cruise ship? Such an eventuality is not out of the question unless or until the vaccine offers 100% protection.
Whatever happens, it would seem that we are likely to soon be entering a new era as far as travel is concerned, in which customer health and safety is of even more importance than it was before the pandemic.