It can’t have escaped anyone’s notice that the concept of Covid-Passports has been very much in the news, during recent months. The idea has been mooted, as we come out of lock-down, as a possible way of opening up society quicker, whilst at the same time remaining safe and stopping the virus from spreading once again.
The multi-billion-pound travel, tourism, and hospitality sectors in particular, are crying out for a return to some semblance of normality, and Covid-Passports of some shape of form, could prove the way out of the current mess.
behind such a document is it would certify that the holder has been fully
vaccinated against Covid-19, and despite obvious concerns regarding civil
liberties and discrimination, plans for such a scheme seem to be gaining
traction. It’s still largely theoretical
at present, at least in the UK, but countries such as Denmark and Israel that
have emerged from the pandemic relatively unscathed, are already piloting such documents.
European Union is also working on its own scheme, although given the discrepancies
between some of the member states in terms of Covid resilience and widely varying infection rates, the roll-out of
such a document could still be some way off.
Britain too, seems to be testing the water, but without committing itself
to anything definite at the moment.
This leads on nicely to two items of news which, whilst not intentionally related, are turning out to be very closely connected. I’ll deal with the imminent story first, before moving on to the second item which not only takes place in four and a half months’ time but is also an event which requires a lot more explanation.News item number one: this afternoon (Thursday), Mrs PBT’s and I will be having our second shot of the Covid vaccination, so two to three weeks after that, we should expect maximum protection against this particular Coronavirus.
News item number two: the pair of us have booked a holiday for mid-September. So, what you might say, lots of people are looking ahead and booking themselves some much needed time away. But what if I told you the holiday, we’ve booked is a cruise?
You’d probably be thinking that we’re mad. After all, remember all those passengers trapped on board cruise ships, just over a year ago, when the Corona-virus pandemic was really starting to take hold. Confined to their cabins for days on end, passengers aboard these vessels quickly found their luxury accommodation had turned into floating prisons.
There is a subtle difference though between these traditional cruises and the one we have just moved, because our voyage aboard the Cunard Queen Elizabeth will not only be confined to British territorial waters, but passengers will be restricted to UK citizens and residents.
Given the uncertainty regarding the ending of all lock down restrictions and the present restrictions on foreign travel, this kind of makes sense, and our four night stay aboard the vessel, will see us cruising from Southampton to Liverpool and back, via the Irish Sea. We have a day ashore in Liverpool, and whilst I have made several visits to the city Mrs PBT’s has never been there.
In addition, the cruise hasn’t cost us a penny, as we had credit left from last year’s cancelled cruise to Hamburg; in fact, after booking this current cruise, we’ve still got sufficient credit left to pay the deposit on another one!
Another advantage of the cruise is not only is our accommodation paid for, but so are all our meals. We can even, if we wish – and Mrs PBT’s certainly will be wishing, opt for room service and have breakfast delivered to our cabin. Drink admittedly is extra, but with a fridge in the room, I will be bringing along a selection of tinnies so I can enjoy a cool beer whilst we’re sitting out on our balcony enjoying the sea air and as we sail along the Welsh coastline.
The accommodation aspect is important, as without wishing to appear smug, overnight stays anywhere in the UK are going to be at a premium, given the uncertainty surrounding foreign travel at the moment, and the fact that holidays on home soil will probably be the norm for 2021.
Several of my work colleagues are already bemoaning the exorbitant costs that many hotels are charging (double pre-pandemic prices in many instances), whist finding a cottage or apartment to rent, is as rare as the proverbial hen’s teeth.
There is, however, a sting in the tail, but one which, if I’m brutally honest, I was half expecting. I’m sure though, that many would just regard it as a sensible precaution, given what the world has just been through and what we are still experiencing.
You see, hidden away in the small print of the T&Cs of our booking confirmation, is a requirement for all passengers to have had both doses of their Covid vaccinations. This is because the voyage is for Covid-19 vaccinated UK residents only. The definition of vaccinated is a minimum of seven days from the second dose of the currently approved Covid-19 vaccine being administered.
Proof of vaccination, and dates given, will be required (approved forms of evidence to be confirmed prior to departure), and will need to be shown at the terminal, prior to boarding. In other words, a Covid-19 passport is required.
Finally, as our cruise will be one of Cunard’s first voyages, following the pause in their operations, the ship will have a significantly reduced number of guests on board, to “better enable a smooth return to sailing.” The wording is, “approved forms of evidence to be confirmed.” In other words, whatever HMG come up with.
That’s fine with me, as there was never any way that either of us were not going to have the vaccine and, irrespective of cruising requirements, we will be fully vaccinated some considerable time ahead of scheduled departure, but for how long these types of Covid Passport will be necessary, in order to travel, remains to be seen.
So, if you’ve got more than a passing interest in this topic, then watch this space!