Vaccine programmes and COVID passports. These terms have been rolling out across headlines and have become a new normal since. Whether it’s looking forward to a quick cross-border getaway, or returning to pre-COVID-19 travelling, the heat is on to progress to a new stage of travel beyond staycations. Fortunately, director of the International Air Transport Association (Iata) Mr Alexandre de Juniac recently announced that personal travel will return in the second half of 2021.
Steps taken to resume personal travel
Currently, the Iata is working with states to design and plan protocols and road maps for the reopening of borders. Among these is Iata’s Travel Pass, a mobile health verification app that electronically captures a traveller’s vaccination history and COVID-19 test results for cross-border safety checks.
Singapore Airlines announced that it will begin testing the Iata Travel Pass on flights from Singapore to London. Passengers using Apple iOS-enabled phones can download the Travel Pass app and create a digital identification with their photo and passport information.
They can submit flight information and proceed to book a COVID-19 test at one of seven participating clinics in Singapore. Afterwards, they can view their test results directly on the app. This will speed up check-in processes at Changi Airport as check-in staff can refer to their app for verification.
However, travellers are presently still required to carry a physical copy of their health certificate.
Other countries rolling out COVID passports
Recently, China has rolled out its vaccine passport, while Germany and the United States are planning to follow suit. Despite this, governments in many countries still remain cautious and in emergency mode with the unpredictable emergence of new COVID variants.
While these precautionary measures are relatively straightforward, Mr de Juniac stated that the actual volume of travel by the year-end will still be relatively low compared with the pre-Covid-19 period in 2019.
The long road to recovery
Understandably, the precautionary measures taken to mitigate a surge in COVID-19 cases trumps our current wanderlust desires. And for good reason. The last thing we’d want is for yet another outbreak to emerge and threaten worldwide safety. Until there are more concrete updates, we can only continue holding on to this light at the end of the tunnel. Let’s hope that personal travel will return this 2021 soon!