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Golf Trip to St. Andrews in May, 2021

A friend and I had to cancel a 10-day golf trip to Scotland in May 2020, with six nights in an apartment in St. Andrews. The rest of the time was in Edinburgh. Except for losing half of our payment for the non-refundable apartment, we were able to cancel the rest of the trip with no penalties. The Old Course and Carnoustie have both allowed us to reschedule our pre-paid tee times in May 2021 and we have booked everything for then, except we decided to stay in a hotel with a 48 hour cancelation policy with no penalty. I read about issues they are still having with the virus in the UK, but that they are also ahead of us with the vaccines. I wanted to ask if any of you have plans to travel to Scotland in our time frame and if you think we should expect to have to cancel again, or by May does anyone think we will be allowed to travel to Scotland then. The courses have already said we could reschedule the tee times in 2022, but are optimistic that they will be open to travelers by then. I am 75 and in good health, except for diabetes properly managed, and expect to have the vaccine in a couple of months. Thank you.

Posted by
17858 posts

Personally, I don't think your odds are very good (I'd guess less than 50-50--but I'm certainly no expert) for May, but as I've posted before, I haven't totally given up on being able to head to Europe in May or June. I'm a healthy 69-year-old, so I'll be somewhere in the middle third of the vaccination schedule.

I think it's too early to compare the progress of vaccination efforts in most countries; I believe we'll have a better idea by the end of January.

The UK's recent decision to give all the at-risk people (which must be a really substantial percentage of the population, as it is in the US) one dose before going back and administering the second dose makes it rather hard to compare the US and the UK. During the extended period (up to 12 weeks) when Britons will be waiting for their second dose, they will not have nearly the full degree of immunity. Do you want to be sharing public transportation (or restaurants) with people who are perhaps something like 40%-50% protected?

Furthermore, the UK is depending heavily on the AstraZeneca vaccine, whose Stage 3 test suffered from a dosing error at one location. The company is doing an additional Stage 3 study in the US, I assume because the FDA has indicated it won't otherwise approve the vaccine. Until the new US study is completed, I'm not going to be confident we know what level of efficacy the AstraZeneca vaccine provides; it may not be terribly close to the 94-95% reported by Pfizer and Moderna.

Posted by
3060 posts

I think the one thing we have all learned is that things can change quickly.......

It travel is opened up, you have an outdoor vacation planned which is good. I hope you get to take this dream trip this year.

Posted by
4335 posts

Sorry to be pessimistic, but I think your chances of the trip happening in May 2021 are less than 10%. The U.K. government has recently indicated that it will be late summer before everybody is vaccinated and that masks in public places are likely to be with us until the end of next year.

My school reunion for May 2021 is in the process of being deferred for a year.

Posted by
4207 posts

Vaccination doesn't preclude you from transmitting the virus so don't hang your hopes on being vaccinated as a solution to your travel predicaments. It is genreally accepted by scientists that a country has to reach a level of 70% of the population being vaccinated in order to consider herd immunity to have been reached. I find it unlikely that this can be achieved in the UK in time despite a reported 77% willingness to have the vaccine.

Posted by
17858 posts

JC, I don't think the authorities have said vaccination doesn't prevent infection (up to roughly whatever percentage of efficacy the vaccine has). They've been saying we don't know for sure. They're supposedly monitoring/testing in some way to pin that down, so I hope within a very few months we'll have definitive information.

On the subject of prioritizing first doses and extending the gap between the first and second vaccinations:

Dr. Fauci let the cat out of the bag on the Today show: There are discussions in the US about prioritizing first doses (though it's not clear for what groups of people or for how long). There's a link to a short blurb about this on CNN.com but no direct article link. I'm sure it will pop up soon on many websites.

This quote from the article clearly implies that dosage interval was tested during the trials (I'd guess during Stage 2 or just a small part of Stage 3):

"He said that it’s known from the clinical trials 'the optimal time is to give it on one day and then for Moderna 28 days later and for Pfizer 21 days later, that’s what the data tells us is the best way to do it.'

"If you want to stick with the data, that’s how it should be done, he said, 'but you can make an argument, and some people are, about stretching out the doses by giving a single dose across the board and hoping you’re going to get the second dose in time to give to individuals.' "

Posted by
4207 posts

JC, I don't think the authorities have said vaccination doesn't prevent infection (up to roughly whatever percentage of efficacy the vaccine has). They've been saying we don't know for sure. They're supposedly monitoring/testing in some way to pin that down, so I hope within a very few months we'll have definitive information.

They're saying that tests have revealed that vaccination lowers the transmission rates but they cannot be certain by how much. What is certain is that vaccination by itself does not preclude transmission when infected.

With the UK's SAGE warning that there will likely be strict measures in place even by the summer I would not bank on visiting the UK in May.

Posted by
510 posts

Thank you so much for your comments and input. On Friday I had the first of two COVID19 vaccine shots, Moderna, and the second will be on 2/12. My travel and golf partner is only 60 and will have to wait probably a couple of months for his. Surely before we leave in early May. I really don't know if the vaccine is supposed to prevent me from getting the virus, reduce the effects if I get it, or prevent me from giving it to someone else if I do get it. Even with the vaccine I plan to continue to wash my hands, wear a mask and take all recommended precautions.

We are still hopeful that by the time we are to leave that the travel restrictions for Americans to the UK will be lifted, but unlike our plans that we had to cancel last year we have no financial commitments that will result in a loss of money if we have to cancel this year. Our hotel reservations can be cancelled within 48 hours of a scheduled arrival with no penalty, and United Airlines will give us a travel voucher good for up to a year. In my case, I have paid with United miles and they will put the miles back in my account without the usual charge. I have also confirmed with both the St. Andrews Links Trust and Carnoustie that they will extend our pre-paid tee times until May of 2022 if we are not allowed to come there this year. Hopefully I'll still be able to play well then if it comes to that.

Posted by
12103 posts

The argument here always tends to center on vaccines and 100% solutions. There is another factor that deals with the economy, jobs, hunger, poverty, etc. Every country is going to have to do their own balancing act. Many countries were open when there was no vaccine, some as late as early December, and I suspect many will open when the weather warms again, some vaccine is out there and numbers drop a bit.

The big decision may not have anything to do with "can I travel?" (because I am certain you will be able to in the Spring), but "is it right for me at this time?"

Posted by
151 posts

Scotland have been always been very quick to introduce restrictions - often quicker and harsher than in England. They may also be slower to ease them too. Seriously no-one knows what the situatioin will be in May as things change weekly (if not daily sometimes!)