The CDC has released its first guidelines for Americans who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 but stopped short of removing warnings against travel. However, it's not clear if the guidance will make much difference as more and more people book flights and hotels.
U.S. public health officials have released their first guidelines for the growing number of Americans who have received a Covid-19 vaccine, allowing many activities to resume but stopping short of endorsing travel.
The good news from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is that those who are fully vaccinated can gather without masks indoors in small groups. In addition, older Americans who are inoculated can visit their unvaccinated children — or grandchildren — if the latter are in a low risk category.
Older Americans are among the first groups to receive Covid-19 vaccines in large numbers. This has translated to an uptick in new airline bookings among “traditionalists” — anyone 75 or older — and, to a lesser extent, Baby Boomers in recent weeks, a recent Bank of America analysis of its credit card data found.
The bad news from the CDC is that it has not changed its recommendation that Americans — vaccinated or not — should avoid traveling.
The new guidance comes as nearly 31.3 million Americans, or 9.4 percent of the population, have been fully inoculated against Covid-19, according to the latest CDC data. At the same time, the number of new coronavirus cases nationally has fallen since early January with the seven-day moving average standing at 57,671 infections a day on March 7 — or about the same number as during the surge last July.
How much the CDC’s guidance affects the outlook for the travel industry is unclear. Airlines and hotels have begun reporting an uptick in bookings — both in Europe and the U.S. — among holidaygoers eager to either get out of the house or visit relatives.
U.S. airlines say that flying is safe, citing the HEPA filters, electrostatic spraying and other enhanced cleaning measures now standard on flights. Several studies have found that, when people wear masks, the chance of transmitting Covid-19 onboard a flight is very low.
— Edward Russell (@ByERussell) November 13, 2020
Trade group Airlines for America (A4A) spokesperson Katherine Estep said carriers continue to work with the CDC on coronavirus-related safety measures following the organization’s new guidelines for vaccinated Americans.
On the lodging front, at the end of February, Caesars Entertainment said Las Vegas bookings were at their “highest level” since they reopened last June. In addition, group and convention room night bookings for the second half of 2021 were 30 percent higher than where they were at this point in 2019.
Many industry executives have said the Covid travel recovery will not begin in earnest until places like Disney in Orlando, and Las Vegas are fully reopened to visitors. The reopenings are well underway, though ensuring people are comfortable to visit — and mingle in the destinations historically large crowds — remains to be seen.
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Photo credit: The CDC waits to remove warnings against travel for vaccinated Americans. Cory Hancock/IMF / International Monetary Fund