We will travel again, but it will not be the same. Even if borders reopen, travelers must trust that boarding a plane is safe and that they will be able to enter the destination country. New health safety protocols and systems will need to be in place, and these have yet to be defined. As governments and industry plan for recovery in this new context and adapt to changing traveler behavior, the use of digital identity and biometrics technologies could restore trust while also ensuring a seamless journey. Take a look at the different ways it could change.
COVID-19 is progressing differently around the globe. South Korea and China seem to have gotten through the storm while America and Europe are still in the thick of it. This means that travel limitations for most nations will stay in place while others will begin easing them soon. Local variations are also probable as some regions within a nation will recover quicker than others and be able to allow visitors sooner. While movement will become possible again, new travel necessities will likely be imposed. This could include vaccination proof or immunity proof for the virus, Mandatory quarantining, or testing upon arrival. This is something that is already being practiced in South Korea and China. Since all these come with the hassle and raise the cost for travelers, the local movement will pick up faster than international ones, because it's not subject to the above limitations. Another aspect that'll change is that travelers will see the worth in flexibility more than before.
You'll have small chances of acquiring COVID-19 while using air. Most airplanes have state-of-the-art circulation systems, which are similar to those in hospitals. These systems use a highly efficient HEPA filter for air circulation and eliminate about 99.7 percent of airborne pathogens. So, if there's any risk, it won't arise from the supplied air. It'd come from people around you. The transmission of COVID-19 is restricted to the distance you sneeze, or cough-which is approximately 2 meters. If you acquire this virus while on board, it's probably because of an individual seated within two rows around you. And this is why most vehicles now need their passengers to wear masks, while others haven't implemented this approach yet.
The proof that's available on the effectiveness of wearing masks while onboard is somehow mixed. Some studies reveal that they protect those around the wearer more than the wearer themselves. For instance, if an individual with symptoms of flu puts a mask on, they'll sneeze into it rather than into the surrounding, and as a result, protect those around them. Other studies have dismissed the value of wearing masks, and claim it can give false security feelings. This is because it can capture the virus in the mask. Time will tell whether we'll be needed to wear a mask post-COVID-19, even though it probably won't be a must until their effectiveness can be significantly proved. Also, with proper health checks before departure, the necessity to wear a mask will be eliminated.
The most visible and immediate change will be a move to touchless travel from hotel check-in to airport curbside. Even with thorough cleaning protocols in place, touching surfaces and interchanging travel papers through security, check-in, boarding, and border control still represent a considerable risk of infection for staff and travelers. Automation in the whole sector will become the new norm. Biometrics are the recently accepted solutions worldwide for verification of identity. The use of biometrics will become more widespread as hand scanners and physical fingerprints are phased out. More touchless alternatives will come into play such as face and iris recognition and contactless fingerprint. Also, contactless data entry technology such as voice commands, contactless scanning of documents, and gesture control are being examined. Care must be taken to ensure these technologies eradicate all potential risks of biases and for inclusiveness.
Airlines have always separated passengers for boarding by allowing them to board in clusters. Nevertheless, the chances are that in the future, we'll have to board according to the row number. This will enable passengers to board from the rear and get seated one row at a time to mitigate the chance of passengers coming into contact with each other. Some traveling vessels have already taken the boarding process to another level. For example, some airlines are launching a queuing feature on their flight app, which notifies passengers when their seat is boarding. Other companies have also currently trialed boarding by seat number to minimize boarding frequencies and queues. Even though this might not be viable for all travelers, it'll become a standard policy once travel demands rise to post COVID-19 pandemic.
Some nations won't even take the chance of doing tests at the border, particularly if you're traveling from an epidemic hotspot. Coming into a country will be denied unless you have an immunity certificate to show that you've recovered from an infection or vaccinated. Travel will undoubtedly become more defined by purpose. Any business movement will require strict validation as an economic activity, with firms tightening employees who travel for them. Nations will likely open their borders when it's safe to allow travelers through and where there's merit. This may mean more documentation and temporary visas that you'll require to carry while traveling.
Many study groups across the world have proposed examining individuals for antibodies to the COVID-19 virus. They also suggest provision COVID passports or immunity certificates to those with these antibodies, which make them resistant to reinfection. Those with an immunity certificate for COVID-19 could assist the world in reviving. The big issue is that nobody knows whether COVID-19 infection confers immunity to reinfection. However, if it does, how long will the immunity last, and how strong is it? It'll take a long time to find solutions to these questions. There are a wide variety of antibody examinations on the market, some with questionable standards. Some detect false positives, while others detect false negatives. Therefore, as long as there's no robust test and we don't know more about the immune protection following infection by COVID-19, there's a minimum chance that immune certificates will be a necessity before traveling.