TORONTO — The world’s top travel destinations are working hard to stay open – and stay safe – to international visitors, however the delta variant isn’t making it any easier.
Concerns about rising COVID caseloads and the delta variant have destinations even more intent on tightening health and safety measures in an effort to remain open while keeping transmissions down.
Case in point: France’s health pass. Already mandatory for travellers coming from or going to France since July 21, 2021 in all places intended for cultural, sports and leisure activities, as well as fairs and exhibitions, effective Aug. 9, 2021 the health pass is now also required for bars and restaurants, both indoors and outdoors. It’s also required for public transport including trains, buses and airplanes.
The French government announced today that in some regions where the epidemic is spreading more rapidly, the health pass will also be needed in major shopping malls.
For several weeks, France has faced an increase in number of daily infections, driven by the highly contagious delta variant, which now accounts for most new cases. France is reporting over 22,000 new confirmed cases each day on average.
“The health crisis is not behind us, very clearly … We will live for several more months with this virus,” said French President Emmanuel Macron.
About 45 million people in France – 67% of the population – have now received at least one virus shot and 56% are fully vaccinated.
The Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs has set up a specific system to obtain a QR code for vaccination equivalence valid on French territory. Travellers are asked to complete the relevant documents as soon as possible, available on the France Diplomatie site.
An info sheet from Atout France notes that initially the system is open to foreign tourists who were vaccinated abroad, and are from outside Europe, already travelling in France or arriving by August 15, 2021. “Applications for arrivals after this date will be considered at a later date.”
Italy meanwhile has implemented its Green Pass. Now in effect, admission to Italy’s archaeological sites, indoor restaurants and cafes and more now requires proof of at least one dose of EU-approve COVID vaccine, or proof of COVID recovery within the last six months, or negative COVID test results within 48 hours.
EU countries got the go-ahead for a digital COVID certificate system in June.
In Canada, all eyes are on Quebec. The province is moving ahead with plans for a vaccine passport. Over the next two weeks Quebec businesses will test an app that will run the vaccine passport system the government plans to impose across the province on Sept. 1. In Ontario, Premier Doug Ford is so far still saying no to vaccine passports.
U.S. LOWERS CANADA ADVISORY TO LEVEL 2
Meanwhile in the U.S., the U.S. State Department announced yesterday that it has downgraded the COVID-19 travel advisory for Canada to Level 2, reports wire service Reuters.
The move came a day after Canada’s new reopened border policy for fully vaccinated American travellers came into effect. So far the U.S. has not reciprocated by reopening its side of the border to Canadian non-essential travellers.
Canada had previously been listed as a Level 3 country in the State Department’s four-tier travel advisory system, which came with a “Reconsider Travel” warning for Americans. Now in Level 2, Canada’s warning label has been changed to “Exercise Increased Caution.”
The CDC also eased Canada’s travel recommendation rating to Level 2.
With file from The Associated Press