Forget Masks, Testing is the Real Barrier to Travel Recovery, says ASTA

Zane Kerby, President and CEO of ACTA.
Zane Kerby, President and CEO of ASTA.

Following the end of the mask mandate for U.S. travel on 18APR, Zane Kerby, President and CEO of the American Society of Travel Advisors, says testing requirements for inbound travel to the U.S., not mask mandates, are the real impediment for the country's travel recovery.

“The current back and forth on the mask mandate pertaining to various forms of transportation misses the mark and overshadows very real policies deterring international travel," Kerby wrote in a statement on 21APR.

"Requiring Americans to test negative prior to returning home from abroad is the public policy that needs immediate reversal.”

“Millions of Americans travel by air every day. Those traveling internationally risk quarantining abroad and navigating multiple foreign countries’ bureaucratic and ever-changing pandemic rules. As a result, Americans are delaying or simply cancelling international trips, ensuring once again that travel will be the last industry to recover from the pandemic.”

Kerby highlights that when travelling to countries with high vaccination rates, the risk of hospitalization from COVID-19 is "extremely low," and says the U.S. government is "is holding its own citizens hostage abroad with this overly cautious, unscientific, and contradictory rule."

He goes on to ask why there is no consideration given to vaccinated travellers despite the U.S. administration saying vaccines are the center of its public policy priority.

“To be clear, we support lifting the inbound testing requirement for all travelers, regardless of their vaccination status, and that remains ASTA’s ultimate policy objective. However, given the bipartisan support in Congress that already exists for it, exempting vaccinated travelers from the requirement represents a logical, and achievable, first step,” Kerby stated.

He also argued that current American government policy creates a "false impression" that travel outside of the U.S. poses greater COVID-19 risk than travel within the country. "How else would the typical traveler understand why a flight from London to New York requires testing while a flight from New York to Los Angeles does not?" Kerby asked.

“To the contrary, a number of countries have vaccination rates higher than the U.S. This fact alone makes it evident that the current testing regime is not defensible on any apparent rational or scientific basis. A multitude of these forward-thinking foreign governments have already removed their inbound testing requirement, and the U.S. should do the same.”

“Exempting the more than 218 million Americans who are fully vaccinated from the order would reflect the scientific consensus that widespread vaccination is the single most essential element of the fight against COVID-19, while allowing the travel industry’s recovery to begin in earnest,” Kerby concluded.

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