Travel industry urges White House to remove coronavirus travel restrictions

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STATEN ISLAND, NY – As coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions are lifted across multiple industries, travel industry leaders nationwide are calling on the federal government to do the same for them.

On Saturday, a group of the country’s main travel associations write a letter to White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeffrey Zients urging the federal government to replace longstanding coronavirus travel restrictions that have ravaged the industry for the past two years.

“With declining hospitalization rates, heightened immunity, widely available vaccines and cutting-edge treatments on the horizon, America is reaching an inflection point where endemic-focused policies can replace related restrictions. to the pandemic,” the letter reads.

“As leading U.S. travel and business organizations, we respectfully urge the administration to chart a clear path to replacing pandemic-era travel advisories, requirements, and restrictions with endemic-focused policies. of a ‘new normal’ that allow travel to resume fully, freely and safely,” the letter continued.

The letter, which was signed by the US Travel Association, Airlines for America, the American Hotel & Lodging Association and the US Chamber of Commerce, comes at a time when much of the coronavirus guidelines and restrictions of the country are relaxed.

On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated their mask guidenow saying that Americans who live in low- and medium-risk areas can safely take a break by not wearing a mask indoors.

Locally, Governor Kathy Hochul announced the end of the statewide mask mandate for schools, and Mayor Eric Adams said New York City would lift its own school mask mandate and requirement. Key2NYC vaccine for public indoor spaces on Monday, March 7, “as long as our indicators show a low level of risk and we don’t see any surprises this week.

Despite the easing of restrictions in many sectors, strict guidelines remain in place around travel, which industry experts say is set to change soon to help offset the massive financial losses the industry has suffered over the past the past two years due to the pandemic.

In the letter, the organizations note that while other industries have begun to rebound, business travel spending in 2021 was still 50% below 2019 pre-pandemic levels and international travel spending was still down 78%.

“Given the slow economic recovery in travel and in light of improving U.S. public health measures and medical advances to prevent the worst outcomes of COVID-19, we encourage the administration to remove immediately any travel requirements that no longer fit the current environment and to set clear timelines and measures for when others will be lifted,” according to the letter.

On the list of demands, the White House must repeal the federal mass transit mask mandate, which is due to expire on March 18.

If the federal government decides to extend the mandate again, the organizations are asking the White House to provide a plan and timeline for lifting the mandate within 90 days.

Travel officials are also calling for an end to pre-departure testing requirements for inbound international travelers in a bid to encourage vaccinations and increase international travel.

An end to the use of country-specific travel bans and ‘avoid travel’ advisories is also included in the letter, with the organizations saying they are doing little to stop the viral spread and are not are not recommended by the World Health Organization.

The White House has also been asked to work with other countries to develop simplified travel requirements, emphasize that it is safe to travel, especially for those who have been vaccinated, and develop a plan by June 1 to phase out all remaining coronavirus travel restrictions.

“Of course, reasonable and effective risk-based policies can be reinstated at any time if new variants of concern emerge or the public health situation deteriorates. However, we believe it is time for the administration to begin leading the country toward a new normal for travel and on a faster path to full economic recovery,” the letter reads.