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Tags: white house | travel industry | covid | restrictions

White House Urged to Lift COVID-19 Travel Restrictions by US Travel Industry

Airline masks
A sign reminds airline passengers to wear face masks as they wait to collect bags in January. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 24 March 2022 11:04 AM EDT

The White House was urged on Tuesday to lift COVID-19 travel restrictions and repeal the federal mask mandate on airplanes and other modes of transportation.

The U.S. Travel Association sent a letter to incoming White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha recommending an immediate end to the pre-departure testing requirement for fully vaccinated inbound international air travelers and lifting the mask mandate by April 18, "or announcing a plan and timeline to repeal the federal mask mandate within the subsequent 90 days."

"It makes little sense to keep the pre-departure testing requirement in place for inbound air travelers when the U.S. government does not require negative tests at U.S-Canada and U.S.-Mexico land border points of entry," U.S. Travel Chief Executive Roger Dow wrote.

U.S. Travel is an industry association based in Washington, D.C.

"Many foreign governments with similar infection, vaccination, and hospitalization rates — including the United Kingdom, Germany, and Canada —­ have eliminated pre-departure testing requirements," Dow added.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended Americans avoid travel to approximately 120 countries and territories.

The industry group also wants the CDC to end "avoid travel" advisories for all vaccinated individuals and called on the Biden administration to avoid the future "use of travel bans from specific countries."

By June 1, the travel industry would like the Biden administration to "develop benchmarks and timelines for a pathway to the new normal that repeals pandemic-focused travel restrictions" including ending all remaining restrictions.

"We strongly encourage the administration to chart a path to the new normal and announce a plan to replace pandemic-focused travel restrictions with more permanent travel policies," Dow said in the letter.

Federal masking requirements on airplanes and trains, and inside transit hubs, were extended by the Biden administration earlier this month through April 18, as public health officials assess when mask mandates should be lifted.

The number of unruly passengers on planes during the pandemic soared, according to ABC News.

This year alone, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has received 961 reports of unruly passengers — 635 of which were related to face masks.

ABC reports that a group of CEOs from all major U.S. airlines sent a letter to President Joe Biden, asking him to drop the federal mask mandate.

"It makes no sense that people are still required to wear masks on airplanes, yet are allowed to congregate in crowded restaurants, schools and at sporting events without masks, despite none of these venues having the protective air filtration system that aircraft do," the letter read.

Additionally, the group said the burden of enforcing the mandate has fallen on their employees, saying, "This is not a function they are trained to perform and subjects them to daily challenges by frustrated customers. This in turn takes a toll on their own well-being."

The letter was signed by CEOs from Alaska Air, Atlas Air, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, FedEx Express, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, UPS Airlines, and Airlines for America, according to ABC.

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The White House was urged on Tuesday to lift COVID-19 travel restrictions and repeal the federal mask mandate on airplanes and other modes of transportation.
white house, travel industry, covid, restrictions
Thursday, 24 March 2022 11:04 AM
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