COVID-19 vaccination card issued by the Centers for Disease Control
Bill Clark | CQ Appeal, Inc. | Getty Images
U.S. airlines and more than two dozen other industry groups on Monday called on the Biden government to work out a plan by May to lift international travel restrictions, including standards for digital vaccination passports, after cross-border travel was destroyed by the pandemic.
Airlines for America, which represent major US airlines such as American, United, southwest and others sent a letter Jeffrey Zients, the White House’s Covid-19 Response Team coordinator, said the guidelines should exempt vaccinated individuals from international testing rules.
Among other things, the groups urged the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to update their guidelines to say vaccinated people can travel safely, according to a copy of the letter viewed by CNBC.
“To be clear, we currently do not support the lifting or relaxation of core public health protections such as the universal mask mandate, requirements for in-depth international testing, physical distancing or any other measure that will make travel safer and the transmission of the virus have decreased, “said the letter, which was also signed by the US Chamber of Commerce, the largest flight attendant union, and other industry groups. “However, the data and scientific evidence show that the right public health measures are now being taken to effectively mitigate risk and enable entry restrictions to be lifted safely.”
Most non-US citizens who have recently been to Europe, the UK and Brazil have been banned from entering the US since March last year, when then-President Donald Trump introduced the rules as Covid-19 spread around the world . In January, Biden said he would not lift entry restrictions because of increasing infections and new, more contagious varieties.
The group also called on the White House to set standards for digital health records that immigration officials can use to show evidence of vaccinations or test results.
Meanwhile, airlines and officials have been looking for ways to use digital vaccines or health passports to boost travel and eventually replace travel restrictions. The European Union last week proposed a digital health certificate with a QR code that contains vaccine and Covid-19 test results.
Delta Airlines‘CEO Ed Bastian told NBC Nightly News last week that he expects digital vaccination records to be required for international travel.
The White House declined to comment, referring to an rRecommendation against travel the CDC director Rochelle Walensky announced Monday.
“Now is not the time to travel,” she said at a press conference.
“We are concerned not only with what happens when you are on the plane yourself, but also with what happens when people travel, that is, they go out, they mingle, they mingle with people who are not vaccinated “, she said.