Domestic testing doesn't fly with U.S. Travel

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The U.S. Travel Association is against mandating Covid-19 tests prior to domestic flights.
The U.S. Travel Association is against mandating Covid-19 tests prior to domestic flights. Photo Credit: StudioByTheSea/Shutterstock.com

The U.S. Travel Association came out against mandating Covid-19 tests prior to domestic flights, which is being eyed by the Biden administration, and reiterated its opposition to imposing quarantines on international travelers.

Marty Cetron, the CDC's director for global migration and quarantine, said Tuesday that the Biden administration is "actively looking" at expanding mandatory testing to travelers on U.S. domestic flights.

"We realize that there's been a dramatic evolution and increase in both testing platforms and testing capacity," Cetron said in a press briefing. "I think this is a really important part of our toolkit to combat this pandemic."

U.S. Travel's executive vice president of public affairs and policy, Tori Emerson Barnes, said during a press conference today that the high cost and low availability of testing in parts of the U.S. "would make it quite unworkable."

She also said such a requirement could increase the daily domestic need for testing capacity by 42% and increase the cost of travel. 

"A domestic testing requirement would hamper not only the mobility of the country but put a huge further dent into the national economy," Barnes said. 

U.S. Travel supports Covid-19 testing for international arrivals, a rule that went into effect this week, and the requirement that people wear masks during interstate travel. The group reiterated its opposition to the part of President Biden's executive order from Jan. 21 that requires for individuals entering the U.S. to quarantine

"[A quarantine rule] would effectively halt travel and be incredibly disruptive, unenforceable, and we are fully opposed to it as long as we have testing mechanisms for international travelers coming to the United States, which took effect yesterday," Barnes said.

She said that the World Health Organization, which the U.S. just rejoined, has articulated that quarantines are "simply ineffective" and "a significant deterrent" to travel. Barnes also cited an IATA study from October which found that 83% of travelers would not travel if they were subject to a quarantine. 

U.S. Travel CEO Roger Dow added that his group believes that "with testing and a layered approach, it's very safe to travel." 

"I would go nowhere if I had to go there and sit in my hotel room for 14 days before I can do business," he said. "We're opposed to quarantines when we have the other protocols in place." 

Dow said that for the industry to recover there needs to be consistency with travel policies. 

"This inconsistency from country to country and state to state is going to be an inhibitor," he said. "It's important for states and countries to get onboard with consistent policies."

Robert Silk contributed to this report.

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