Travel Leaders Want Feds to Drop Covid-Test Entry Requirement

More than 260 industry groups signed a letter urging the White House to allow vaccinated air travelers to enter the U.S. without proof of a negative Covid test.

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Representatives of airlines, airports, cruise companies, convention and visitor bureaus, hotels and other industry organizations united to send a joint letter to White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha. The letter, issued yesterday and signed by more than 260 travel businesses and organizations, calls for an immediate end to the inbound testing requirement for vaccinated international air travelers. Per the current mandate, all international travelers, regardless of vaccination status and citizenship, must show proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken within one day prior to departure in order to enter the country.

In the letter, travel organizations argued that the inbound testing requirement was no longer needed to control the pandemic. They pointed to foreign governments with similar vaccination, infection and hospitalization rates, such as the U.K., Germany and Canada, which have eliminated predeparture testing requirements for vaccinated travelers. The signees also noted that Covid-19 testing requirements have been lifted for travelers entering the U.S. via the nation's land borders with Canada and Mexico, making it illogical to maintain restrictions on air travelers. 

"As President Biden said in his State of the Union speech, we have now reached a new moment in the fight against Covid-19," states the letter. "Stronger immunity provided by vaccinations, boosters and prior infections, as well as effective treatments to prevent the worst outcomes of Covid-19, have enabled Americans to safely return to work, schools and normal activities — all without the need for indoor masks, frequent testing and physical distancing. These factors strongly support the elimination of the predeparture testing requirement for vaccinated international air travelers."

The travel industry is still struggling to fully recover from the pandemic. Data from the U.S. Travel Association shows business travel spending remains 56 percent below 2019 levels, while international travel spending is 78 percent below prepandemic spending. According to the letter, travel organizations expect removing the inbound testing requirement on air travelers to greatly accelerate the industry's recovery.

Among the more than 260 organizations that co-signed the letter are: