The roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines is underway in many countries around the globe, raising hopes that if infection rates drop significantly, international travel might be back on the agenda.

Vaccinations commenced in Australia in February, with a target of October to give as many people the jab as possible. And while it is not compulsory for Australians to be vaccinated against Covid, one major airline has already indicated it is considering making the immunisation a requirement for international travel.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce made headlines in late 2020 when he revealed international travellers would need the vaccination to be able to get on a flight with the airline. Domestic travel would be excluded from this, as would countries within a travel bubble, like New Zealand.

The Federal Government’s stance on this is unclear, but its vaccination policy states there may be circumstances where it: “may introduce border entry or re-entry requirements that are conditional on proof of vaccination.”

Overseas, some small cruise operators have already made compulsory vaccination part of their travel policy.  From April, Saga Cruises in the UK will require all passengers to be “fully vaccinated against COVID-19 at least 14 days before sailing with us.” Victory Cruise Lines in the US has made vaccination compulsory for all guests and crew from July 1.

The larger cruise lines have not gone as far – at this point. But there have been media reports stating Norwegian Cruise Line intends on ensuring all crew are vaccinated prior to boarding.

From a practical standpoint, when international travel resumes it is possible travellers will need a ‘health passport’, as well as their immigration documents.  In April, Air New Zealand will begin trialling a Travel Pass mobile app on its Auckland to Sydney route. Developed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the app will store information such as Covid tests results and vaccination records. Qantas is also trialling this, as well as the CommonPass app, on its repatriation flights into Australia.  

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