Date: March 23, 2022
The U.S. Travel Association renewed its call in a new letter to incoming White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha to replace pandemic-era travel advisories, requirements and restrictions with endemic-focused policies that will enable travel to resume fully and freely.
In recent weeks, the British and Canadian governments have taken similar actions to ease remaining restrictions on travelers.
The letter to Dr. Jha notes that, despite declining hospitalizations and infections, increased vaccination rates and immunity, and a more robust public health infrastructure to manage the virus, the vast majority of pandemic-driven federal travel policies are still in place. While the public health benefits of these policies have now greatly diminished, the economic consequences continue to grow.
- Business travel spending was 56% below 2019 levels
- International travel spending was 78% below 2019 levels
Given travel’s slow economic recovery, and in light of the improved public health metrics in the U.S. and medical advancements to prevent the worst outcomes of COVID-19, U.S. Travel calls on the incoming COVID response coordinator to prioritize the removal of travel requirements that no longer fit with the current environment and to set clear timelines and metrics for when others will be lifted.
U.S. Travel’s recommendations to restore travel:
- Immediately remove the pre-departure testing requirement for all fully vaccinated inbound international arrivals.
- By April 18, repeal the federal mask mandate for public transportation.
- End “avoid travel” advisories and the use of travel bans.
- Work with other countries to normalize travel conditions and entry requirements.
- By June 1, develop benchmarks and timelines for a pathway to the new normal that repeals pandemic-focused travel restrictions.
- 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. 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.
Please click here to see the full letter and policy recommendations.