Like many 70+ peers, a few years before the pandemic I chose to give up driving. I still have my driver’s license, but I would hesitate to get behind the wheel today for anything other than outright emergencies.
Cutting back on my driving was easy. I simply took Lyft or Uber about five times a week. In the evening, my wife, who is ten years younger than me, usually drove. If we planned to consume a bottle of wine in the evening, we racked up more Lyft or Uber trips.
Since I live close to LAX and most of my destinations are in West Los Angeles, a car was seldom more than 10 minutes away or cost more than $15.00. We got rid of our second car, which more than offset the costs of our Ubers and Lyfts.
On our last few cruises, we found that even the smallest port towns often had cars and drivers that would take you anywhere you wanted for a fraction of the cost of a ship’s tour. Since most drivers spoke some English and were sociable, we also asked them to suggest restaurants and shops that they frequented.
The pandemic changes all that. We’re both vaccinated, but we have a real-life horror of being in close proximity with those who are not. We have deposits on a cruise that explores Australia in December, and a repositioning cruise from Japan to Alaska in May 2022. Since everyone on international cruises and flights will be vaccinated, we’ll be safer on those cruises than in the United States—where about 20% of the public probably will refuse to get vaccinated for at least the next year.
Why do we care if anyone is unvaccinated if all our friends and we are vaccinated? The wildcards are coronavirus variants that can spread among the unvaxed, potentially endangering us (as well as them).
When “vaccine passports” are readily available, smartphone apps will be able to be used to prove to passengers that their drivers are vaxed, and have passengers confirm to drivers that they are all vaxed. Proof that children are vaccinated could be added to the parents’ and caregivers’ vaccine passports. This will assure that children can also be carried in the “vaccinated only” cars. As long as “carry everyone” vehicles are also available, this will not be discriminatory, but an additional precaution that vaccinated passengers and drivers may take.
Israel has already warned its citizens that “normal” life will require that everyone be vaccinated.
It was reported Monday that 75 percent of Americans have had their first shot. Also, some authorities predict that the surplus of vaccines will approach 300 million doses by this summer. These factors make it highly unlikely that restaurants, malls, stadiums, hotels and anyone else will lose money by providing “vax-only” services.
Adding “green” Uber and Lyft services to their present ones can be an opening salvo in reducing the percent of unvaxed adults below 20%. What’s more, it can be done without any laws or government regulations. All it requires is that Uber and/or Lyft dedicate some cars to the vax-only service. Since these are international corporations, this can improve public health all over the world by “limiting the spread” and by motivating more people to get vaccinated.
Dr. Steve Frankel and his wife have cruised on most of the Seabourn, Silversea, Crystal, Azamara, Oceania, Regent, and Windstar ships. He writes a weekly column, Point-to-Point, for Travel Research Online (TRO) that’s read by more than 80,000 travel advisors and industry leaders. Steve is the founder of Cruises & Cameras Travel Services, LLC. He has been recognized as a “2021 Top Travel Specialist” by Conde Nast Traveler magazine and a “Travel Expert Select “by the Signature Travel Network. His specialties are luxury small-ship cruises and COVID-19 safety measures, and has a doctorate in Educational Research with minors in Marketing and Quantitative Business Analysis. He’s also earned a Certificate in Epidemiology from Johns Hopkins University. Previously, he managed qualitative and quantitative research in the private & public sectors. He’s a member of the Los Angeles Press Club, and has written 13 books and hundreds of articles. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.