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No vaccine required? Think again when planning your international trip

At least three major US cities are now requiring proof of at least partial vaccination to do things like eat at a restaurant or drink at a bar: New York City, San Francisco and New Orleans. Picture: Reuters

At least three major US cities are now requiring proof of at least partial vaccination to do things like eat at a restaurant or drink at a bar: New York City, San Francisco and New Orleans. Picture: Reuters

Published Aug 18, 2021


By Hannah Sampson

Washington - Unvaccinated travellers can go on vacation. But in many destinations, they may not be able to do much after arriving.

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Taking a page from France and Italy, a handful of US cities are making many indoor activities off limits to the unvaccinated or adding testing requirements. Producers of some concerts and events are doing the same. Most cruises require passengers to have their shots. Canada is making air travel a vaccinated-only mode of transportation.

On a regular basis, the list of options for unvaccinated people is shrinking - and the trend is likely to continue. Many employers, including United Airlines and Disney, are adding vaccine mandates for workers. Some travellers have said on social media that they intend to direct their business to companies that require the vaccines.

"Life is going to be easier if one is vaccinated than not vaccinated," said Eric Feldman, a professor of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School. "Life is also going to be safer if one is vaccinated rather than not vaccinated. The best possible outcome is that what people will decide to do as they look at the piling up of vaccine requirements is to just go get the shots."

Medical experts agree. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people should not travel until they are fully vaccinated.

"I don't think an unvaccinated person should go to the supermarket," said David Freedman, professor emeritus of infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. His sentiment, of course, applies to travel.

As the highly contagious delta variant has become dominant in the United States, sending cases surging, businesses, health officials and authorities have responded with new requirements - and a fresh push for vaccinations. That means travellers should expect to run into vaccine requirements, depending on how they spend their vacation.

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City crackdowns

At least three major US cities are now requiring proof of at least partial vaccination to do things like eat at a restaurant or drink at a bar: New York City, San Francisco and New Orleans.

Effective Monday, proof of at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine or a negative PCR test within 72 hours is required in New Orleans for dining or drinking inside at restaurants and bars. The same requirements apply to other indoor venues including sports complexes and arenas, music halls, event spaces, recreation areas, adult entertainment venues and casinos.

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Starting Friday in San Francisco, restaurants, bars, clubs, theatres and entertainment venues will need to get proof of full vaccination from customers age 12 and older to let them inside. Attendees of large indoor events - defined as 1 000 people or more - will also have to show proof that they are vaccinated.

Live events and entertainment venues

Broadway theatres are requiring proof of vaccination as well as masks for everyone 12 and older, the Broadway League announced last month.

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Concert and live event company AEG Presents, which owns and operates venues and festivals including Coachella, said last week that it will require proof of vaccination for entry starting Oct. 1 where the law allows. In the meantime, those without proof of shots will need to show a negative coronavirus test.

Earlier this month, the company's New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival had to be cancelled because of the virus.

"I think everyone can agree that we don't want concerts to go away again," chief executive Jay Marciano said in a statement. "And this is the best way to keep that from happening."

Live Nation Entertainment followed with its own rules that event attendees be vaccinated or recently tested, effective Oct. 4, NBC News reported.

People attending events at venues in the Washington, D.C. area, including the Anthem, 9:30 Club, Lincoln Theatre and Merriweather Post Pavilion, must show that they are fully vaccinated or have tested negative for coronavirus in the past 72 hours, along with photo identification.


Puerto Rico is requiring guests at hotels, guesthouses and short-term rentals, as well as employees, to be vaccinated. Those who have not been vaccinated have to show proof of a negative PCR or antigen test within 72 hours of the beginning of their stay; tests are required on a weekly basis if unvaccinated people are staying longer than a week. The vaccine or test proof will extend to restaurants, bars and other indoor dining venues in Puerto Rico starting Aug. 23.

International travel

Countries including Canada and the United Kingdom are allowing only vaccinated visitors to skip quarantine, with additional testing requirements. Some Caribbean islands such as Anguilla and, as of Sept. 1, Turks and Caicos, are open only to vaccinated visitors.

But even destinations that allow recent negative tests in lieu of vaccine proof have rules that will make it more complicated for the unvaccinated to visit.

Italy and France, for example, are requiring passes that show proof of vaccination, a recent test or recovery from the virus for certain indoor activities. Greece is only allowing vaccinated people to eat indoors. Vacationers in Portugal need vaccine proof, a recent test or proof of past infection to stay in hotels, Reuters reported last month.

In Canada, shots will be required to get around on multiple forms of transportation. The government announced last week that commercial air travellers, passengers on trains between provinces and cruise ships will need to be vaccinated.


Most cruise lines are requiring passengers 12 and older to be fully vaccinated - or putting extra restrictions in place for the unvaccinated. Vaccine mandates vary according to departure port; all cruises leaving Seattle for Alaska require vaccination, for example.

But in Florida, state law says businesses can't demand proof of vaccination. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, which includes three cruise lines, is defying that law and mandating documentation of vaccination. The company has sued Florida and, earlier this month, got a preliminary injunction blocking the state from enforcing its vaccine passport law.

The Associated Press reported last week that several states, including Florida, Alabama, Montana and Texas, prohibit most businesses from refusing service to the unvaccinated.

But Feldman, of Penn Law, said he expects more pushback - and said there are some indications that those laws have some legal vulnerability.

"It's allowed by law for private businesses to set certain requirements that they impose on their customers or clients that they feel are necessary for running a safe operation," he said.