Of course, it had to be Western Australia, led by the hard man of the pandemic. The state announced on Friday it has further tightened its border restrictions for people arriving from New South Wales, requiring visitors to show proof that they have had at least one COVID-19 vaccination.
The new rules will be enforced this week, and require travellers to prove a negative coronavirus test result from the previous 72 hours.
The news was greeted with furore in the eastern states. But why? If we want to travel with COVID, there is a price. And WA just named it.
The same requirements will apply for people arriving from all states and territories deemed ‘high risk’. And there will be an ‘extreme risk’ category for other states and territories where it will be mandatory for people to quarantine in a hotel and have an additional COVID test on day five.
WA is certainly not alone in demanding proof of vaccine status.
Earlier this week, New Zealand revealed plans to allow quarantine-free entry to vaccinated travellers from low-risk countries – but not until 2022.
All of this is a sign of what we can expect while we learn to live with COVID and until we hit those vaccine targets. Don’t want a jab? Then expect to holiday at home for a long time to come.
In France, President Emmanuel Macron has made vaccines mandatory if people want to attend sporting matches, go to the movies or museums, dance in nightclubs or attend festivals.
And soon, he wants to extend it much further and require proof of vaccinations to eat at restaurants and even use some public transport systems like intercity trains.
In Greece, travellers are dancing up a storm in the taverners. The island nation opened its borders in May, just in time for the European summer for holidaymakers- providing they had proof of vaccinations.
And just a few weeks ago, the first flights for fully vaccinated Americans arrived in the United Kingdom. After months of border closures, families embraced, and travellers were free to roam not just the United Kingdom but other Schengen nations as well.
Air carriers and cruise lines are demanding vaccine passports. Qantas has confirmed it will roll out a digital health pass for international flights, which will confirm passengers have clearance to fly.
Qantas and Jetstar use the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) Travel Pass, which will allow passengers to prove they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or have had a negative test result before their flight.
So if you’re thinking of Bali, you’ll need to get a jab.
In terms of cruising, Norwegian Cruise Line has won a hard-fought court case for the right to demand a vaccine passport from its passengers. The cruise line will require all guests and crew to be fully vaccinated at least two weeks prior to departure. And each passenger will be tested prior to boarding.
Unlike any other cruise line that have made exceptions for children, Norwegian is not allowing any unvaccinated child under the age of 12 to board.
But while only 44 per cent of Australia’s population have received their first dose, and around five million are fully vaccinated, there is hope.
The Australian Government has signalled that 80 per cent of the population has to be vaccinated before opening the borders.
And according to predictions, we can actually get there in December. Providing our supplies hold up and enough of those laggards who still see COVID as a conspiracy roll up their sleeves.
Tourism Minister Dan Tehan said Australia is still extremely keen to set up travel bubbles with countries that have managed the virus well like Singapore, Japan and South Korea.
“That’s still the plan. Obviously, we’re in a pandemic. So, the plan can be adapted and continue to change, but … that’s what we’re looking at. We want to be able to open up, and open up with those countries based on the medical advice, when we know it’s safe to do so,” he told CNBC.
So if your bags are packed but your still resisting the idea of a vaccination, better be prepared to travel no further than the local motel.
WA is just the start of a world where that vaccine certificate will be your new ticket to ride, drive, fly or cruise.
Better get used to it.