White House officials met Tuesday with members of the travel industry, who pressured the administration to suspend the requirement that vaccinated international passengers take a coronavirus test before flying to the United States.
Airlines for America, which represents the main US airlines, and the Travel Association, which groups the broad travel and tourism sector, argued that this requirement does not coincide with the current threat from covid-19.
They also say that requiring coronavirus tests hurts the country’s economy.
“Frankly, the only impact the travel screening requirement has is a chilling effect on an already fragile economy here in the US,” Airlines for America chief Nick Calio said in a post-release statement of the meeting.
“Other countries have eliminated the covid-19 test requirement”
Roger Dow of the US Travel Association said in a separate statement that while restrictions on many other sectors have been lifted, “the travel industry continues to be disproportionately harmed by this requirement”.
“Other countries with which we compete directly for global travelers have eliminated their pre-travel screening requirements and reopened their tourism economies, putting the United States at a serious competitive disadvantage for export dollars,” Dow added.
Airlines for America said its members — including American Airlines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines — believe that removing this requirement would lead to more foreigners visiting the United States.
The association says that in mid-May, domestic travel was within 7 percentage points of pre-pandemic levels. However, international travel lagged 14% below normal at the same time.
What do the medical experts say?
The industry has called the testing policy obsolete for months.
Some medical experts also question the usefulness of the measure.
Testing people arriving from other countries doesn’t make much sense to Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.
“That has puzzled me for a long time because we have a lot of Covid-19 here! It’s not like we’re trying to keep Covid-19 away,” Schaffner told Citizen Free Press Travel in March. “It’s here”.
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