Pause, before you hit that cancel button on your ticket for that much-anticipated holiday.
Yes, the Omicron is here but that doesn’t mean you have to roll-back travel plans to avoid the tedium of long queues and airport drills especially if you are vaccinated.
Union tourism minister G Kishan Reddy said as much on Saturday, as he urged tourists not to cancel their vacation plans due to fears of a third COVID wave. He instead urged them to focus on following precautionary protocols and getting vaccinated.
“There is some speculation that a third wave may be on the way. Whether the third wave arrives or not, everyone (with travel plans) should follow corona protocol and travel to tourist destinations, attend meetings and festivals,” Reddy told a press conference in Goa.
Recently, India and many other nations have reinstated travel restrictions. For instance, the Maharashtra government has requested all international travellers for details of their travel history for the previous 15 days. Also, passengers from high-risk countries will be checked at separate counters and additional RT-PCR tests and institutional quarantine is now required. Further, the Indian government has stalled the resumption of scheduled international flights from December 15 citing the threat from Omicron, which is believed to be possibly more infectious than other COVID variants.
While the holiday season of Christmas and New Year is upon us, what tourists fear most in a pandemic scenario is getting stuck in a city or airport or quarantine hotel in a foreign land. Most experts suggest that it is best to postpone non-urgent travel or at least be ready with emergency plans and funds.
Also, the unvaccinated or immune-compromised should definitely avoid travel as well as destinations with a high number of COVID cases. Better still, one should consider getting a booster vaccine shot and take along a supply of at-home rapid antigen tests as well as medications.
One media report quoted David Freedman, president-elect of American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, as saying that “the type of mask one wears while traveling is particularly important, and that… N95 or KN95 masks are preferable”.
Many developed nations have already begun giving third vaccine shots to their populations, while India is mulling a booster dose for its people.
In the meantime, as minister Reddy pointed out in Goa, “domestic tourism is picking up” and “everyone should follow their itinerary”. And COVID protocols.