The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention appeased the worry of many airline companies that the agency is going to require COVID19 tests before boarding domestic flights. The agency announced that “at this time, CDC is not recommending required point of departure testing for domestic travel”.
However, the CDC has reiterated its position regarding travel. They still urge the public to not travel. And if you need to travel, CDC suggested taking a viral test “1-3 days before the trip”. And post-travel, individuals should also have a viral test 3-5 days after and quarantine for 7 days despite receiving a negative result.
COVID19 Tests Not Feasible
Southwest Airlines executives called the possibility of having COVID19 tests on domestic flights “wholly impractical”. They aren’t alone in their sentiment. The president of JetBlue Airways also has the same stance on testing domestic passengers. Airline executives also argued that testing would further use the limited resources for testing. JetBlue President Joanna Geraghty mentioned that it puts “pressure on a fragile system”.
Geraghty also said that required testing on domestic passengers will further burden airline workers. She said that “we already have them as the mask police”. Checking and validating documents on top of social distancing and masking protocols will further burden airline workers.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed on Friday that “reports that there is an intention to put in place new (travel) requirements such as testing are not accurate”. This statement transpired after a private meeting between airline CEOs and the White House.
CDC Fears of COVID19 Variant Breakout
It was earlier reported that the Biden administration was weighing in on the possibility of a stricter domestic travel protocol after outbreaks involving the COVID19 variants were reported. Among these variants include the UK’s B.1.1.7, B.1.351 from South Africa, and Brazil’s P.1. As of February 21, CDC reported 1661 cases of B.1.1.7 across 44 states.
Far from Recovered
With billions of losses experienced by the travel industry in 2020, airlines don’t expect everything to come back to normal in 2021 despite the vaccine rollout.
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