Sir Richard Branson told CNBC Tuesday that he hopes that potential passengers who have been vaccinated will have what are known as Covid vaccination cards available so they may bypass other virus mitigation measures before traveling.
“Vaccination is everything. Once the vulnerable in particular are vaccinated, I think all kinds of businesses can reopen: restaurants, travel companies, cruise lines,” said Branson, co-founder of Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia.
“Hopefully there will be a vaccination certificate that will allow people to get on a plane without being tested or quarantined,” added the British businessman in an interview with Squawk on the Street. ”
Branson’s comments come a week after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that passengers would be required to prove they recently tested negative for the coronavirus before flying into the country.
And on Monday, President-elect Joe Biden spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a tweet that the new administration would maintain an entry ban for most visitors from Europe, the UK and Brazil. This announcement came shortly after President Donald Trump announced that he would lift travel restrictions.
Covid vaccination passports are a way for people to prove they have been vaccinated against the disease, and some believe they can help economic recovery from the pandemic. A group called the Vaccination Credential Initiative, supported by Microsoft and Oracle, was recently launched. The coalition is working to develop a way that people can get an encrypted digital version of vaccination logs that can then be stored in a digital wallet of their choice such as the Apple Wallet or Google Pay.
“As the world begins to recover from the pandemic, electronic access to vaccinations, tests, and other medical records will be critical to resumption of travel and more,” said Mike Sicilia, executive vice president of Oracle’s global business units , in a press release about the initiative.
Airlines and the travel industry have been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Industry executives have pointed out time and again that widespread Covid vaccinations are key to robust recovery.
While air travel isn’t at the bottom of the pandemic, Branson expects it will spike in the coming months as vaccinations continue to roll out. He praised efforts across the UK to get vaccinations, as well as Biden’s promise to vaccinate 100 million Americans in 100 days.
“I would hope that in three or four months, once most of the vulnerable are vaccinated, we can look forward to late spring or summer to get back to normal,” said Branson.