A bill that was recently introduced to the US Senate could lead to travelers requiring proof of vaccination against Covid-19 in order to be able to travel on domestic air journeys. The bill, which was introduced on Wednesday as the U.S. Air Travel Public Safety Act, would see the requirements for domestic air travel in the US become more closely aligned with the requirements needed to travel internationally if it becomes law.
The pandemic has changed travel in several ways and, whilst needing to be vaccinated in order to travel domestically may seem a step too far for some travelers, many people at the start of the pandemic would have also thought the same about needing to wear a mask whilst on board an airplane. Here’s a closer look at the controversial bill, including why it was introduced in the first place and what relevant parties have said about the requirement in the past.
U.S. Air Travel Public Safety Act – What Travelers Should Know
The U.S. Air Travel Public Safety Act was introduced in the Senate this week by Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California. The bill would require airlines to make sure that all of the passengers in the US provide either digital or paper documentation that proves they are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, that they have tested negative for the virus or have fully recovered from the virus before they board a domestic flight.
Feinstein cited a previous explosion of cases last holiday season as a motivation for introducing the bill. By bringing domestic policy in line with international policy and only allowing vaccinated and tested travelers to fly, the risk of spreading the virus around the country is greatly reduced. The senator said:
“We know that air travel during the 2020 holiday season contributed to last winter’s devastating Covid-19 surge. We simply cannot allow that to happen again.”
According to the senator’s press release, the bill is supported by influential groups such as the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the American Public Health Association, lending some weight to the proposal. Barbara Alexander, the President of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, said:
“Vaccination is a critical strategy to end the Covid-19 pandemic, and vaccination requirements in multiple settings are an important mechanism to boost vaccination rates, prevent infections and hospitalizations and save lives.”
The bill also seems to be supported by the general public. According to a recent Harris Poll, a clear majority of Americans (64%) are in favor of the idea of introducing a vaccine passport for domestic flights, whilst another poll found that four in ten unvaccinated Americans would be more likely to get vaccinated if airlines required it – a statistic that could see politicians back the idea.
Other influential figures, such as Dr. Anthony Fauci – the president’s chief medical adviser – have also backed the idea of needing to be vaccinated in order to fly. The US Travel Association is against the idea, stating that “such a policy would have an unfair, negative impact on families with young children who are not yet eligible to get the vaccine.”
Airlines themselves have been on record stating that such a mandate could potentially be bad for business, and so they could lobby against the bill passing into law. Several airlines are also facing the pressure to vaccinate their staff due to the requirement to do so as government contractors.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories