… many other things will, I suspect, all collide (only figuratively, I hope) when, in late 2021 for some of the world and 2022/23 for most of it, the current global pandemic is under control and life returns to “normal,” which probably includes the already familiar annual flu shot and and a new annual coronavirus shot, too.
But things will be a bit different, too, I think. People will want to travel again. In 2019 the world’s top ten tourist destinations were France, Spain, the USA, China, Italy, Turkey, Mexico, Thailand, Germany and the United Kingdom. Most people went to most of those places by air. Air “borders” are fairly easy to control. A destination country, France for example, can require the sending country, say Canada, to screen passengers before they are allowed to board a flight. Many of us are used to this: the agent checks our passport, to make sure it is current and that we have the required visas before (s)he gives us a boarding pass. (S)he must do that or the destination country, say France, again, will return an improperly screened passenger to Canada at the airline’s expense. I suspect that the screening will get more complex and more intrusive, too. My guess is that France, again just for example, will demand that before an agent lets you or me on a flight (s)he checks to determine that our passports are current, that we have been vaccinated within the past year, and that we have tested negative within, say, the last week, for the coronavirus. But it will likely go farther. France will want to know that I have not visited, just for example, Mexico, Thailand or Turkey ~ assuming those countries are behind others in getting the virus under control. The airport gate agent will be allowed to check our immigration and travel records ~ another infringement on our privacy ~ to verify that. If we object to giving up all that information we can stay home. It’s our choice to want to travel; it is France’s choice to decide if we can travel to France or not.
And another (only peripherally related, but I mentioned ships in the title) guess: while most of us will want to travel and those of us travelling to Europe and Asia will travel mainly by air. The cruise-line industry will be devastated. I expect that hundreds of cruise ships will be tied up for another year or two and tens of thousands of staff will be laid off because most people will be unwilling to spend days and nights in close contact with thousands of strangers. I’m sure the cruise lines will find ways to win back customers but I suspect it will take time and effort.
But my main point is that returning to “normal” is going to mean surrendering a lot of privacy. While Justin Trudeau may think that Canadians will not need “divisive” vaccine passports, the rest of the world doesn’t care what he thinks ~ if that’s even the right word ~ and neither should Canadians. His opinions are irrelevant; so are yours and mine. If I want to go to Australia to visit my grandsons I will have to have a passport and visa, as was always the case, and, now, a “vaccine passport” and a recent (negative) virus test, too, and I may have to tell the Australians, before I am allowed to board the aircraft, about every international trip I have taken in the past 18 months. I believe that is going to be the price that many counties will charge to allow visitors, again. I also believe that most of us will be wiling to pay it. The “vaccine passport” will be with us and we will all just get used to it.
That “vaccine passport” may restore an old document to popularity. My immunization record, with “jabs” going all the way back to the 1960s, and including my 2020 flu shot, is in my passport folder. I expect many of us will want new ones.
I can, easily, imagine this domestic scenario: It is late 2021 and I get an electronic invitation from a friend in Kingston, ON, announcing a HUGE surprise birthday party for her husband in late January 2022. She will have booked a whole pub and she expects 50+ of us from all over Canada and the USA. She will remind us that Kingston has been a really very safe place in 2020 and 2021 and the local authorities aim to keep it that way and all the local hotels ~ every single one within the city limits ~ are required to demand both a proof of vaccination and a recent (negative) virus test before allowing you in. They are allowed to charge you one night’s room rent if you book and fail to produce either the proof of vaccination or the test.
Rapid (15 minutes, maybe almost instant) and cheap, maybe only $10.00, virus tests will be available in every pharmacy. And they’ll be doing a good business because almost all of us will need to have a recent test report with us for a huge range of purposes, many of us on an almost daily basis. Maybe there’ll even be an app for that.
Suffice it to say that the “new normal” for many Canadians will include being able to prove that you have been vaccinated, that you are, currently, free from known viruses and even that you you have not travelled to a dangerous place in the past few months.