As vaccination levels increase, experts offer advice on how to travel safely to Brazil
As global vaccination levels continue to increase, international travelers wonder if is the last quarter of 2021 the right time to travel or even plan a trip to Brazil. According travel industry and health experts, travel now is a matter of balancing risks with benefits.
“Most of our clients have recognized from the past two years that you only live once. With the right precautions, they value their freedom to travel, to explore and most of all to connect with the world,” says Jack Ezon, founder of Embark Beyond, a New York-based travel agency specializing in the luxury market. “And right now there are great values and most places aren’t overcrowded.”
So how to manage the risk of traveling during this period? In September, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky offered this advice: “First and foremost, if you’re unvaccinated, we would recommend not traveling. But people who are fully vaccinated and wearing masks can travel.”
The CDC currently lists at least 80 countries and territories as “Very High Risk — avoid travel” (including popular destinations such as France, Greece and Portugal), with dozens more considered “High Risk” (including Brazil, Canada, Italy and Mexico). However, many are allowing U.S. visitors, with or without proof of vaccination.
Brazil is currently open for most international travelers with some entry restrictions. All arrivals must present a negative COVID-19 test no older than 72 hours. Also, they have to fill out a traveler’s health declaration form. Children under two are exempt from the requirements.
Brazil started vaccinating its residents in mid-January. Even though the campaign suffered from vaccine shortages, according to Bloomberg’s COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker, the country has now exceeded the U.S. in the number of people who have received at least one dose. So far, 63% of Brazilians have received their first shot, compared to the 62% of the population in the U.S.
In terms of timing, data shows a virus surge in fall and winter with lower temperatures and increased indoor gatherings. As fall begins in the Northern Hemisphere, October is the tail end of winter in Brazil, with warming weather and dry, sunny days throughout the country. It’s a great time to visit parts of southern Brazil, such as Rio de Janeiro, where you can expect temperatures around 80°F, and in São Paulo, with temperature around 76°F.
The Brazilian Agency for the International Promotion of Tourism, Embratur, reports a recent increase in the volume of foreign visitors arriving in the country. “In the month of June, the embarkation and disembarkation operations had an increase of 11.35 percent, compared to May, in one of our main tourist cities, Recife,” said Carlos Brito, president of Embratur.
“While traveling, you’ll find yourself in airports and other places that can get crowded. If you’re uncomfortable with those kinds of situations in your hometown, traveling now might not be ideal for you,” says Joost Schreve, chief executive officer of the Boulder, Colorado-based travel service company kimkim. “But if you’re living a fairly normal life at the moment, we’ve found that most of our travelers have had no issues and in many cases enjoyed a relative lack of crowds since many places have fewer visitors.”
Joshua Bush, chief executive officer of Avenue Two Travel in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, agrees that travel now “comes down to risk tolerance and awareness, but it is possible to travel now and do so in an ethical and safe manner.”
As policies and circumstances continue to change, it is important to stay informed with up-to-date official information. Visit the Brazilian Embassy website.