One of the world’s biggest tour and cruise operators has announced it will mandate that all travellers booking holidays with them be vaccinated against coronavirus.
UK based Saga, which typically operates holiday packages for people aged over 50, has said that all customers must be “fully vaccinated” to travel on their cruises and holidays at least two weeks prior to departure.
A spokesperson for the company said “We have taken the decision to require everyone travelling with us to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Our customers want the reassurance of the vaccine and to know others travelling with them will be vaccinated too.”
Saga is giving customers until May to get vaccinated before re-launching its holiday packages.
Nick Stace, chief executive of Saga’s travel arm, said “Given that many of our customers are in the priority age range and we’ve done calculations based on what government has said, we think shortly after beginning of May almost all of customers will have received a second vaccination.”
The company also offers banking and insurance services, although it has not said whether the policy will be extended to those customers.
Some called the announcement hypocritical, given that crews on board Saga cruise ships will not be forced to get vaccinations:
Others noted that there is no proof yet that the vaccine provides any immunity:
Others simply refused to go along with the company policy:
But will they have any choice if they want to leave the country?
One operator that says it will not enforce such a policy is Germany-based TUI, which has rejected the notion of turning away unvaccinated customers.
However, it is now clear that so called ‘vaccine passports’ are becoming ubiquitous. Spain, Greece and the Seychelles have all announced that they will implement systems to get tourism back up and running.
Airlines, hotels and insurance companies have also all signalled that they will mandate vaccine certificates.
Dr Richard Dawood, a specialist in travel medicine at the Fleet Street Clinic in London, told The Telegraph this week that he sees vaccine passports as ‘unavoidable’.
“Regardless of how any of us feel about the idea of ‘vaccine passports’ for travel, they will ultimately be unavoidable,” Dr Dawood said.
“Once countries begin insisting on proof of Covid immunity from arriving travellers [as the Seychelles has done], there will be little option but to embrace the challenge,” he added.
“We all long for travel to return to normal. But entry requirements will remain as long as countries feel insecure, perhaps until most people have been vaccinated worldwide. Social distancing, sanitisers, face masks on flights, delays, red tape, and last-minute changes of plan, will stay a fact of travel until then,” Dawood emphasised.
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