TAMPA, Fla. - A new coronavirus vaccine could be ready soon, and for those who thought about waiting to get it, companies may soon require it for certain activities.
International air travel could come booming back next year but with a new rule: Travelers to certain countries must be vaccinated against the coronavirus before they can fly.
Encouraging news about vaccine development has given airlines and nations hope they may soon be able to revive suspended flight routes and dust off lucrative tourism plans. But countries in Asia and the Pacific, in particular, are determined not to let their hard-won gains against the virus evaporate.
In Australia, the boss of Qantas, the country’s largest airline, said that once a virus vaccine becomes widely available, his carrier will likely require passengers use it before they can travel abroad or land in Australia.
Qantas Chief Executive Alan Joyce said he’s been talking to his counterparts at other airlines around the world about the possibility of a “vaccination passport” for international travelers.
“We are looking at changing our terms and conditions to say for international travelers, that we will ask people to have the vaccination before they get on the aircraft,” Joyce told Australia’s Network Nine television.
South Korea’s largest airline has a similar message. Jill Chung, a spokesperson for Korean Air, said Tuesday there’s a real possibility that airlines will require that passengers be vaccinated. She said that’s because governments are likely to require vaccinations as a condition for lifting quarantine requirements for new arrivals.
Air New Zealand echoed Chung’s position.
“Ultimately, it’s up to governments to determine when and how it is safe to reopen borders and we continue to work closely with authorities on this,” Air New Zealand said in a statement.
Attorneys have said people don't have a constitutional right to fly on a plane. Airlines are private companies that set their own requirements for customers.
Visiting a theme park may also carry the same requirement.
“We’ve already seen it, where companies are allowed to refuse and entry if you don’t wear a mask, they can make that decision on their own,” Attorney Whitney Boan told FOX 35.
While businesses may put vaccine requirements in place, legal experts say it's unlikely there will be a government mandate.
Earlier this month, Governor Ron DeSantis said Florida will make vaccines available to residents, but wouldn't mandate them.
“It’s more difficult for the government to justify a broad measure like that, whereas with private businesses or schools, the courts are more deferential to the requirements,” said Attorney Larry Walters.
Attorneys said they expect legal battles over mandatory vaccines in the coming months.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.