The US Travel Association, a non-profit organization that represents all aspects of the travel industry, wrote a letter to the White House with a list of which COVID travel restrictions and mandates should end and when.
The letter, seen by Reuters, noted proposed the following:
- Immediately end pre-departure testing for fully vaccinated international arrivals coming to the US.
- Repeal the federal mask mandate for all public transportation (including air travel) by April 18, or announce a plan to end the mandate in the subsequent 90 days.
- End “avoid travel” advisories, which currently hold for about 120 countries, as well as travel bans.
In addition to the more immediate proposals, the letter asked for a plan to be ready by June 1 to end all remaining travel restrictions like vaccine mandates. The UK and Canada have already taken similar steps. Notably, testing already isn’t required for Americans visiting Canada or Mexico.
Ending the mask mandate for public transportation is in line with following the science and recommendations from the experts: The CDC said in mid-March that 99.5 percent of the US population lives in a place where masks aren’t needed due to low COVID levels.
The current federal mask mandate is in place through April 18.
Airlines are onboard with some of the changes as well for the first time since COVID travel measures started. Not long after the US Travel Association letter was made public, executives at American Airlines, Delta, United and others asked President Joe Biden to let the federal mask mandate expire on its intended date rather than extend it once again. Additionally, the airline executives asked that the mandate for proof of a negative coronavirus test end as well.
“The persistent and steady decline of hospitalization and death rates are the most compelling indicators that our country is well protected against severe disease from Covid-19,” the airline execs wrote in a letter obtained by the New York Times. “Given that we have entered a different phase of dealing with this virus, we strongly support your view that ‘Covid-19 need no longer control our lives.’”