Travel restrictions are easing and vaccination rates are rising, but the question remains on when to begin our travels. 

As the COVID-19 vaccine continues to be distributed worldwide and cases begin to decline, countries are beginning to contemplate easing travel restrictions with their closest neighbors. 

This is the case with New Zealand and Australia because last week they decided to open up travel between the two countries. This is done by creating a “bubble” that the citizens of the two countries can remain in to avoid the quarantine after flights between the two countries. 

According to the New York Times, since the United States is now one of the countries with the highest vaccine distribution rates, the U.S. government is now contemplating what it will look like for our citizens to travel again. The government is tracking the progress of other countries and their vaccine distribution, and COVID-19 case numbers to provide an advisory on whether travel is possible between the two countries. 

However, just because travel is now allowed, doesn’t mean that it is advisable. While the U.S. has prevented travel to countries with a high COVID-19 infection rate, it is still possible to contract the disease. According to the CDC, this is true even with full immunity, although it will be considerably less likely with the vaccine, and the case will be mild. 

It is also still possible to become a spreader of the virus. You might not know that you are experiencing symptoms of coronavirus because your case is milder due to the immunity provided by the vaccine. Therefore, you might carry the virus to other citizens of the country you are visiting. 

If you must travel internationally at this time, it is still possible to do it safely. The CDC still recommends mask-wearing, as it is still required on flights and in airports both domestically and internationally. Additionally, most airlines still distance passengers during their flights as well. 

There are signs that travel will become safer in the near future, though!

According to USA Today, airlines are modifying their air filtration systems with HEPA filters. When the recycled air from the cabin is moved through these filters, viruses are trapped, and the rest of the air can pass through and continue to circulate in the plane. Airlines are also increasing air turnover in their planes, with most large aircrafts having a full cycle of filtered air every three minutes. 

More countries worldwide are making it a priority to provide the vaccine to their citizens, according to ABC News. Developed nations are rapidly approaching full immunity, and there will soon be more vaccine distribution to developing nations. This will lower the risk of travel transmission of COVID-19

Currently, The countries that were hit hardest by COVID-19 are Brazil, India and Germany. Although Germany is currently facing its most strict lockdown until more of the population is fully vaccinated, there is light at the end of the tunnel for the people there. However, in India, where just 2% of the population is fully vaccinated, it is more likely that they will need to wait until the end of 2022 just to reach the 70% vaccination threshold to start having herd immunity. 

In light of the massive death rate in countries like India and Brazil, developing countries that have access to large lab facilities are begging the UN to take action against countries that refuse to release vaccine trademarks. If vaccines were out from under these trademark laws, labs in developing countries could create the vaccine in their own labs to supplement the ones coming from overseas and boost general immunity worldwide. 

Other forms of transportation are also taking safety precautions for those who use them. Buses are maintaining social distance among their passengers and running more frequently at peak times so that not as many passengers need to get on each bus. Trains are using additional cars to allow for distancing between passengers as well. Taxis and ride services mandate masks and provide plexiglass dividers between passengers and drivers to allow for safe interactions. 

These small adjustments bring hope that there will be some semblance of normal soon. For now, it is time to stay close to home and enjoy the warmth that summer brings.