It’s time to ground the nonsensical requirement that all international travelers test negative for COVID to board flights here.
With COVID clearly no longer a serious threat, the mandate plainly does far more harm than good, which is why few other nations insist on it.
Americans travelling abroad regularly get stranded by the rule, missing work and spending big for emergency hotel stays. It also harms the US economy by discouraging tourism.
It’s not even much protection: Testing a day before flying doesn’t mean you don’t have COVID, only that the tests haven’t detected the virus yet.
Travel-industry reps told President Joe Biden as much at the White House last week, asking him to do the sensible thing and ax the rule, at the very least for vaccinated travelers and Americans returning home.
“Other countries with whom we directly compete for global travelers have removed their pre-departure testing requirements and reopened their tourism economies, putting the US at a serious competitive disadvantage,” noted Roger Dow of the US Travel Association.
And Airlines for America chief Nick Calio made the other salient point: “The only impact the pre-departure testing requirement is having is a chilling effect on an already fragile economy here in the US.”
In mid-May, domestic travel was within 7 percentage points of pre-pandemic levels, but international travel was still down 14%. The loss of foreign travelers is keeping Americans out of work, very much including here in New York City.
Most important, the pandemic is over: COVID will keep on sickening and killing a few people, but only as a background threat, much like the flu. Pandering to the remaining hysteria only feeds fear, holding back the full return to normalcy.
It’s one easy-peasy step Biden can take to boost the US economy without even offending any Democratic special-interest groups. Recognize how idiotic this rule’s become, Mr. President, and kill it.