Will it be safe — and acceptable — to travel come June and July? And is now a good time to start planning summer travel?
With so much uncertainty still around the pandemic and the world’s ability to curb the virus’ spread, there’s no clear cut answer to these questions.
The future of future travel
People with summer travel plans to Tokyo for the Olympic Games got definitive news on Monday — they’ve been postponed until 2021.
Canadian Teresa Banner and her family have a trip booked to Europe in mid-May.
Banner is not the only one who has been wondering about travel plans down the line.
“Different countries can be in different phases of the pandemic at any point in time and different parts of the same country can also be in different phases of a pandemic,” the CDC writes.
“There are ongoing investigations to learn more. This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available.”
Status of restrictions lifting? TBD
As the border between the United States and Canada closes to all but essential travel for now, lovely escapes to places such as Haida Gwaii (also known as the Queen Charlotte Islands) in British Columbia will have to wait.
Trudeau made the comments from the front step of his house in Ottawa on Thursday, where he and his family are in self-isolation after his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from the UK.
But some public health researchers are suggesting travel restrictions will last much longer than a few months.
“Things are going to be very difficult for 12 months or more,” Penn State epidemiologist Maciej Boni told CNN Travel.
“Vacations may have to be canceled. Social interactions will look different. And risk management is something we’re going to have to think about every morning when we wake up,” he writes.
The decision about whether you can safely venture out of the house, never mind the country, will come when we’ve managed to “stamp out transmission” of COVID-19, says Kumi Smith, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Minnesota.
At this stage, she told CNN Travel, no one can say when that might be.
“The predictive mathematical models are being built, and the whole point of that is to try to give lawmakers, authorities and public health officials some grasp of what’s going on. But as new cases come in, that new data is being fed into the models; it’s updated every day.”
The models change depending on how the public responds to the restrictions: The less we go to the beach and the more we follow advice to wash our hands frequently, cough and sneeze into our elbows and practice social distancing, the better those mathematical models will look.
Research now, plan later
Joshua Tree National Park, two and a half hours by car from Los Angeles, is closed to vehicles. It’s not clear when it will allow car travel, making summer vacation plans in the region complicated.
Courtesy Hannah Schwalbe/NPS
“When it comes to ‘When will this all end and when can I travel again’?” I would push that question back,” says Smith. “I’d say it’s on us to adhere to these regulations and to quarantine ourselves and monitor ourselves and try to do what we can as individuals to stop this from spreading.”
As for her summer vacation, she’s not making any plans.
“I don’t really want the emotional roller coaster of planning a really exciting summer trip and then not being able to go on it.”
If you to decide to jump on that roller coaster and start planning a summer trip, you’ll want to check out all the fine print about changes and cancellations.
Meanwhile, travel professionals suggest this is the perfect time to research your next trip.
“For now, let’s take time to wanderlust, to virtually explore, to deep dive into destinations and to dream where’s next,” says Amanda Hills, the president of Hills Balfour, a PR agency in London that represents dozens of international destinations and hotels.
“Soon enough, borders will once again be open and barriers lifted.” In the meantime, Hills suggests spending time enjoying “armchair adventures” such as virtual walking tours through the Grand Canyon or live streaming opera from Vienna.
Teresa Banner is still hoping she can go to Europe in May. “The nature of the whole situation is we don’t know. It’s 50% yes, 50% no. Nobody knows. I’m not even worrying about it. I’m just getting stuff done around the house.”