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Omicron: How the new variant will affect travel?

Omicron is the name of the new Covid variant and it seems alreday reaching European countries. UK and Belgium see committed cases.

"Omicron variant 'likely' already in Germany, says minister" based on a DW article. Also Czech Republic, the Netherlands and others identified suspect cases. The German case landed Nov 21, so if infected with new variant enough time to spread it.

Currently nobody knows exactly how dangerous it is but experts seem to be concerned. Some are "cautiously optimistic that widely vaccinated population will avoid serious" effects.
Leading institutions and vaccine manufacturers such as BionTech are researching already.

Actual situation in a lot of countries is serious enough already, an additional new variant might boost it even worse.

What are your opinions on how will Omicron affect travel?

Posted by
6113 posts

It’s too early to say, but new variants always mean caution in the short term. The U.K. experts seem to be exceedingly concerned about this variant, even if double vaccinated and boosted.

With Christmas approaching and people mixing, travel in January isn’t looking as likely as it was a month ago. Lockdowns look more likely.

Posted by
11493 posts

Too early to panic. Caution required. Wear a mask anywhere you go where other people are indoors, in any country. get vaccinated and boosted. We made it through 5 countries and 10 weeks with no COVID. I am convinced our success was vaccination, masking, and maintaining physical distance from others as much as possible.

Posted by
2674 posts

I am convinced our success was vaccination, masking, and maintaining physical distance from others as much as possible.

Seems always to be a good survival strategy in these times.

btw: Germany has now two Omicron cases in Munich and still one suspect in Hessen.

Posted by
3903 posts

I always feel like the media wants me to channel Bugs Bunny and scream, "AAAAhhhhh! Run for the hills!!!!!!!"

Instead... I think I'll wait to see what the researchers have to say about Omicron over the next few weeks.

I'm just glad this variant does not share a name with my favorite airline... it will make my reading less confusing.

Posted by
492 posts

It looks like it may severely impact a trip I have coming up at the end of December - looks like UK will require all entries to get a PCR instead of antigen test, and people will have to self isolate until they get results. So I’d have to spend probably 3 days of an 11 day trip locked in our hotel room (since we arrive on New Year’s Day and I am doubtful we’d make any progress getting tested that day). Our plan was to also take the train to Paris for a few days and then return to London, but then that’d mean more days in isolation after another PCR test. Effectively spending half the trip isolated in a hotel rooms.

Well… looks like I’ll have to cancel this trip, yet again.

Posted by
1176 posts

It has me worried about our RS trip next summer to England. I have no way to predict what the situation will look like by then. In the best case Covid behaves more like the flu and peaks around this time of year and diminishes over the summer. In the worst case this new variant spreads and countries enter lockdown again over the spring and summer. The catch for us is that we have until the end of December to get a full refund on the deposit.

Posted by
492 posts

Obviously masking, vaccines, boosters, and just being smart and cautious are worthwhile.

But when it comes to stuff like this impacting travel, covid itself - or any variant of it - isn't the only risk. Travel restrictions, closed borders, expanded testing requirements, quarantine and isolation requirements, stay-at-home orders closing businesses, etc. are also risks.

So we can already see how the new variant will impact travel. It'll impact it considerably, depending on your chosen destination, in the near term at least.

Posted by
15703 posts

The website hasn't been updated. Only a PCR test is allowed for now.

And yes. You have to self-isolate until your results are known regardless of your vaccination status.

Posted by
492 posts

eshah - as Frank mentioned, requirements changed today. And may again in a few weeks. Because of the new variant, UK is requiring everyone (even those vaccinated) to get a PCR and self isolate.

At this point I could be looking at shelling out a hefty sum for a rapid PCR. We'll see.

Best laid plans of mice and men, right?

Posted by
33335 posts

sorry, eshah, your link hasn't been updated. The changes are from now. PCR, not LFT, and self isolate until you receive a negative result. and more...

Posted by
33335 posts

I'm not sure about rapid PCR at the moment as they want to sequence all positives.

Posted by
6101 posts

The only good news for me is that it is not the name of the airline that gets most of my business. And since I'm the family "travel agent", and we have loved ones in multiple places. I'm constantly searching for some flight, and searching on "Delta" has been a bit of a bear.

And,can we just wear masks, get vaccinated and distance just a bit? Because it doesn't really help as much, once the new wave starts. A friend told me that they are now masking in her daughter's classroom, because three kids tested positive. Yep, that's too late.

Posted by
2674 posts

Just in: Dutch authorities have found 13 cases of Omicron variant among the travelers who arrived from South Africa.

Posted by
2674 posts

Actual article with map and detailed infoemation which European countries registered Omicron cases so far.

Meanwhile "Europe crossed 75 million coronavirus cases on Friday, according to a Reuters tally, as the region braces for the new Omicron variant at a time when hospitals in some countries are already strained by the current surge." (source).

Posted by
14269 posts

My word, Mark, that is shocking.

Posted by
486 posts

Wow Mark!. That Omicron curve shows the speed epidemiologists talk about! In London….However even here in the Heartland of US it has to be here. Grateful we have no Holiday travel plans and that we were able to do European travel in he “sweet spot” of early Oct! Safe healthy travels to many who venture out! Positive note this moves fast and by late winter things will look better! Get vaxed and hang on…again!

Posted by
45 posts

Omicron has definitely affected my travel. Already canceled Heart of Portugal trip for early April since it’s too early to tell what’s going to happen with this stuff. Am waitlisted for same trip for late October. Fingers crossed it’ll happen. I’m even reluctant to travel domestically until the numbers drop. I’m a health care provider and know this is nothing to mess around with, boosted or not. There are entirely too many people out there who are still treating the pandemic, vaccines, masking etc as either a
political act or conspiracy theory. Until everyone considers the well-being of their fellow human and gets vaxxed covid is not going away….

Posted by
1103 posts

We cancelled our May RS tour, but will wait until early May (deposit refund date)
to decide whether we are going on the September tour. At this point, it is not clear that things will be better by spring.

Posted by
11511 posts

News report, via New York Times, is A-Z, J&J shots have limited effectiveness against omicron.
Pfizer and Moderna are doing well, in boosted folk.

I suspect areas where A-Z and J&J were the dominant shot will be compelled to institute more restrictive measures and do so sooner, than areas where Pfizer and Moderna are the prevalent vaccine.

What are your opinions on how will Omicron affect travel?

Going to add to the hoops and hurdles, where its not banned

Posted by
2674 posts

Airlines have cancelled more than 4,500 flights during the Christmas
weekend, as the Omicron variant of COVID-19 forces itinerary changes
and holiday travel plans worldwide.

This Euronews article gives a partial intermediate answer to the initial question.

Posted by
18822 posts

Up until now I worked with the pandemic and life (and travel) continued. This one is a game changer. It is spreading so quickly that I knew there would be significant travel disruption. AND, the chances that I cant get on a plane at one end or the other is pretty high risk. Either canceled flights or personal quarantine. Until or unless this variant is treated like a separate illness and tests for it specifically are created (even possible?) we are in for an interesting 6 months.

I have an international trip next week which I figure is a coin toss. Fortunately I bought trip insurance. The one in March still looks promising ... but we will see... maybe by then the new strain will be so predominate that rules and restrictions are modified to respond to that one alone.