As travel starts the long road back to some kind of normalcy, it is time for the U.S. government bodies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to do their part to move that process along. That’s according to a letter this week from the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA).
In a letter to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s director, Rochelle Walensky, on Tuesday, ASTA’s president Zane Kerby said that while the CDC’s orders have all been designed to slow the spread of COVID-19, which is a positive for everyone, the amount of orders enforcing different rules and regulations “have created confusion, uncertainty and unpredictability.”
ASTA wants the CDC to issue clear, and easily understood guidance immediately in order to stop the “chilling effecting on future bookings and innumerable other challenges” for its 14,000 members.
In the letter, Kerby outlines three cornerstones of what ASTA believes should be the new goals for the CDC.
The first is to “publish a framework similar to those implemented at the state level to determine phases of safe reopening of travel based on positivity, infection, and vaccination rates.” That would allow travel advisors, suppliers, and consumers to make informed decisions about their travel, Kerby said, along with enforcing a clear set of policies that can be physically measured and base decisions off that.
The second is that the CDC implement a rule that would exempt those who have been vaccinated from the travel restrictions, including the testing for any inbound passenger coming into the U.S.
“The CDC has begun to issue vacation cards to those individuals who have received one or more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Travel suppliers should be permitted to accept these vaccination records to exempt travelers from restrictions,” Kerby wrote.
The last is that the CDC approve and start incorporating vaccination passports, including IATA’s Travel Pass and the CommonPass, backed by IBM and the Linux Foundation, as a way to “relax travel requirements for those who can establish vaccination, immunity, or a negative test result.”
“Those who are vaccinated or have sufficient levels of antibodies to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 should be permitted to resume normal travel activities,” Kerby wrote.
The push comes as more travel restrictions are being rolled out both in the U.S. and abroad, including the new inbound testing requirement for all passengers flying into the United States; the U.S.’s federal mask mandate for planes, airports, and trains; and Transport Canada’s ban on cruising through February 2022.
ASTA has also recently continued its push to secure federal aid for its members, writing to its supporters inside of Congress that the government has a “responsibility” to support the hardest hit industries, including the travel trade that has suffered enormously from the pandemic—according to an ASTA survey, the average travel agency business has lost 82% of its income in 2020 when compared to 2019 and, at last count, has laid off close to 60% of its staff.