According to an official in the Biden administration, they are “actively looking” into requiring COVID-19 testing for all domestic American flights. The airline industry has already been brutally battered over the pandemic. Some say this will help them and others say this will devastate the industry even more.
This will most likely mean that passengers will have to arrive hours ahead of departure to be tested. They will have to give proof of a negative test before boarding their flight to fly within the United States.
On a call with reporters Tuesday, Dr. Marty Cetron, who is the director for the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stated that there were “conversations that are ongoing and looking at what the types and locations of testing might be … We’re actively looking at it.”
Cetron also stated: “We realize that there’s been a dramatic evolution and increase in both testing platforms and testing capacity. I think this is a really important part of our toolkit to combat this pandemic.”
A number of airports in big cities in the United States have already set up voluntary testing facilities for their passengers. If this gets the nod by the Biden administration, testing will become mandatory. Passengers should consider that they will have to pay for these tests and they are not cheap.
In an industry that has been crippled with a massive drop in demand due to the pandemic, this requirement may further endanger airlines and determine whether they can stay in business or not.
According to the Daily Mail, passenger traffic dropped 67 percent in 2020. That wiped out 21 years of global aviation growth in a matter of months. Passenger numbers have not been this low since 1999.
In April, scheduled passenger flights dropped to just 13,600 globally compared to 2020’s busiest day on January 3 when Cirium tracked over 95,000 scheduled passenger flights. That’s an 86 percent reduction in flights.
On a call with reporters, a senior CDC official said the Biden administration is “actively looking at” possibly requiring COVID-19 testing before domestic flights.
— Gio Benitez (@GioBenitez) January 27, 2021
One of President Biden’s new executive orders directed U.S. agencies to give recommendations on how to “impose additional public health measures for domestic travel” and to consider new rules for those crossing land borders. That same executive order mandated mask use in airports, on airplanes, trains, ferries, buses.
On Tuesday, another new rule was activated that requires international airline travelers ages 2 and up to provide a negative COVID test before entering the U.S.
The CDC stated Sunday that it would not give waivers to exempt travelers from some countries with limited testing. A number of U.S. airlines have previously sought waivers.
This development comes after Biden reinstated COVID-19 travel restrictions on most non-U.S. passengers from Brazil, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and 26 other European countries that allow travel across open borders. South Africa was also added to the list because of concerns about a variant of the virus that has spread beyond that nation.
The State Department admonished on Tuesday that U.S. citizens should reconsider non-essential travel abroad, emphasizing that access to testing in some nations remains difficult. The agency also warned Americans to consider ahead of international travel how they would pay for healthcare and additional lodging costs if they became infected or hospitalized while traveling. Passengers are also being warned that they may find it difficult to come home for a while from overseas.
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