Following the CDC's decision on Friday to relax masking policies for a majority of the country, travel groups from around the industry called on the Biden administration to do the same for travel.
The CDC's new recommendations do not change the requirement to wear masks on public transportation and indoors in airports, train stations and bus stations.
The U.S. Travel Association, the American Hotel and Lodging Association, Airlines for America and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce appealed to the White House to take steps to "normalize travel," by repealing pre-departure testing requirements for vaccinated inbound air travelers and lifting the mask mandate for public transportation, among other policies.
In a letter to White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeffrey Zients, the groups also asked the administration to end "avoid travel" advisories, work with other countries to normalize travel conditions and entry requirements, develop benchmarks and timelines for a pathway that repeals pandemic-focused travel restrictions by June 1, and send a clear message to the American public and the world that it is safe to travel again, particularly for vaccinated individuals.
"Effective, risk-based policies can be reinstated at any time if new variants of concern emerge or the public health situation deteriorates," the groups said. "It is now time for the administration to lead the country towards a new normal for travel and on a faster path to a full and even economic recovery."
The letter said its recommended policies were crucial to restoring the U.S. economy and workforce, saying travel was the largest services-based U.S. export prior to the pandemic. In 2021, as many other sectors of the economy reached a full recovery, business travel spending was approximately 50% below 2019 levels and travel spending by foreign visitors was down 78% compared to 2019.