United States President Joe Biden announced the nomination of David Pekoske as administrator of the…
Dr. Anthony Fauci today stated that the possibility of the federal government requiring vaccine passports for domestic air travel within the U.S. is “still on the table”, among other policies under consideration.
As the White House’s Chief Medical Advisor, Fauci appeared earlier today on NBC News’ ‘Meet the Press’ to answer some of reporter Chuck Todd’s questions about the Biden administration’s continuing response to COVID-19.
When asked whether a vaccine mandate for domestic flyers was still under consideration by the COVID-19 task force, Fauci said: “The team has a lot of things on the table, nothing has been taken off the table. That decision has not been made.”
His response echoes a remark made on September 10 by Jeff Zients—the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator—who, when questioned about the Biden administration’s stance on requiring vaccinations for domestic air travel, said: “I think we have a very strong track record that shows we’re pulling available levers to acquire vaccinations and we’re not taking any measures off the table.”
But, everyone seems to be on board as far as mandating vaccinations for inbound foreign travelers. Last Wednesday, a senior White House official let slip that the government is developing a “new system for international travel”, which would replace the U.S.’ current blanket restrictions on travelers from many foreign countries.
Based on Zients’ comments, Reuters reported that the scheme will likely include both vaccination requirements and compulsory pre-travel testing, and involve a comprehensive new contact-tracing system in cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
WATCH: @chucktodd: Is a vaccine mandate under consideration for domestic air travel?
Dr. Fauci: “Nothing has been taken off the table.” pic.twitter.com/QjwUlE1c4R
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) September 19, 2021
Because the new system would mean lifting current catch-all bans on travelers from certain countries, existing international travel restrictions won’t be relaxed while the Delta variant-driven fourth COVID-19 surge continues.
Separately, Fauci stated last week that he would personally support the implementation of a vaccine passport program for domestic flyers. “I would support that if you want to get on a plane and travel with other people that you should be vaccinated,” Fauci said during a September 12 interview, according to Newsweek.
The U.S. Travel Association immediately railed against Fauci’s stance, saying that the existing precautionary measures in use by airlines and airports, such as mask-wearing, provide sufficient protection from COVID-19, even amid Delta and any other potential variants of concern.
It’s no surprise that travel sector players would collectively refuse to support any policy that threatens to diminish consumer demand after the devastation the pandemic inflicted on the industry last year.