The 24-hour inbound testing requirement is the single biggest barrier to the travel industry’s full recovery in the U.S., and it is time for the White House to remove the requirement for vaccinated travelers.
That’s the message in a new article from Zane Kerby, the president and CEO of the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), published on Thursday.
Kerby wrote that the 24-hour requirement, which was a 72-hour requirement until late last year, represents a practical challenge for many Americans and a missed opportunity for the White House, which has continuously pushed for incentives to get more Americans vaccinated (the vaccination rate in the U.S. has sat in the low 60% range for months).
“If the Administration is serious about achieving its primary policy goal of getting more Americans vaccinated, it should rescind the CDC’s testing requirement for those U.S. citizens who are fully vaccinated,” Kerby wrote.
Doing that will “re-open the world to 200 million Americans (95 million of whom traveled abroad in 2019) who are already vaccinated but hesitant to risk being ‘stuck’ abroad,” he added.
The CDC has been slow to change its rules—CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told Yahoo Finance earlier this month that while it was optimistic about the decline in COVID-19 cases, a continued uncertainty has prevented it from removing requirements, including the testing requirement.
Kerby added in his message that vaccinated and boosted travelers, who are 13 times less likely to test positive for OCVID, 16 times less likely to be hospitalized, and 68 times less likely to die from getting COVID, have already “done their part…yet the inbound testing requirement applies to all.”
“The solution is simple and within our reach: exempt fully vaccinated travelers from the inbound testing requirement now,” he added.
Other countries have already started to wind down requirements.
Canada said it will remove its PCR test requirement for fully vaccinated travelers starting on Feb. 28 (rapid tests taken the day before arriving in the country will be allowed instead). The United Kingdom also has already exempted fully vaccinated travelers from its testing requirements.