December 02. To cancel or not to cancel. That is the question that travelers are grappling with as the Omicron variant scuttles around the world, reminding people that the pandemic roller-coaster ride is far from over. What’s different this time around is that the holiday travel season is right around the corner, and tourism, in general, has finally started to rebound.
Whether the variant, which has been identified in at least 20 countries, is more severe or more transmissible than other forms of the coronavirus will likely remain unknown for at least two weeks.
Though most people are by now experienced with making high-stakes health-risk assessments in the face of incomplete information, that doesn’t make the decision about whether to travel or not easy.
Courtney Niebrzydowsk, an international travel risk analyst at the University of Denver, said she urges people to ask themselves two primary questions when they consider traveling: 1. Can this travel be postponed? and 2. How flexible can you be?
She also urges people to think through all the scenarios that could emerge if they travel — like testing positive, facing a canceled return flight or learning last minute that their destination country has expanded its quarantine requirement — and map out detailed contingency plans, including costs, missed obligations and how to approach health care. Often, she said, after going through this exercise, people have “less appetite for travel.”
Jessica Herzstein, a physician who advises organizations on how to manage the coronavirus and other health risks, including those associated with travel, said that she discourages anyone who is unvaccinated or immune-compromised from traveling. She also advises travelers going to destinations with a particularly high prevalence of cases to consider canceling. For those planning to travel, Dr. Herzstein strongly advises booster shots for those eligible and to take along a supply of at-home rapid antigen tests.
Part of the challenge that many people are struggling with is how to weigh the other variables — like the mental health benefits of celebrating Christmas with family, or the professional benefits that might come from interacting with co-workers face-to-face. It’s easier for governmentsto define “essential travel” than for individuals, said Ms. Niebrzydowsk, the travel risk analyst.
Source: New York Times