You Staying at Home Is the Future Unvaccinated-Punishers Want
When it’s been a good long while, you forget one of the primary benefits of travel: seeing and experiencing wholly different approaches to the same human problems we contend with back home. For my 6-year-old in France the first half of August, that meant mostly one thing: Kids of elementary school age there almost never wear masks.
“Can we stay in France until coronavirus is over?” she asked, more than once.
To be sure, that’s not the French COVID-19 policy making international headlines this summer. In July, President Emmanuel Macron announced that everyone in the country as of August 9 must show a government-issued Pass Sanitaire—proof of either vaccination, a negative test within the past 72 hours, or prior recovery from an infection—before doing most anything in an indoor public space. Cities have been wracked with protests every weekend since; vaccinations have also shot upward.
Vaccine passports have become an increasingly popular policy response to the more infectious delta variant of COVID-19. Italy has required a “Green Pass” since August 6 (as a nakedly biased New York Times subhed put it, “While such measures have prompted protests in France and divided Americans, Italians are enjoying a season of rationality under Prime Minister Mario Draghi”).
Papers-please requirements went into effect Monday in New Orleans and New York City; San Francisco will join them Friday. California announced yesterday that any public event larger than 1,000 attendees will need to check vax status as of September 20.
Most ominously of all, for those who value freedom of movement over government’s ability to constrain it, not only has President Joe Biden been reportedly considering a vaccination-check for domestic air travel, he will soon have a demonstration project to consider north of the border, where Canada last week announced that proof will be required for all air, train, and boat passengers beginning this fall.
As The Washington Post put it in a headline this week, “Vaccines are mounting—and that’s likely to affect your next trip.”
That is, if you decide to take it.
The net sum of governmental restrictions and requirements on travel adds layer upon layer of time, cost, and anxiety. And that’s for those of us who got our vaccinations as quickly as legally possible. Even before you leave your country, there’s the potentially trip-killing hassle of either obtaining or renewing a passport, which has wreaked expensive havoc on thousands of Americans. Then the actual COVID rules kick in.
Imagine a federal government initiating and executing a national IT job and related app affecting tens of millions in a couple of months. Obamacare exchanges, anyone? Foreign visitors to France were told (usually by the media) that they should just go to a nearby pharmacy, show a relevant vax card, and they’d be given something temporary to show whoever asked. The pharmacists replied, er, non, we don’t have that capability; our database system is set up so we’d have to create some kind of ghost in-country vaccination record, and, well, bonne chan
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