Last week I explained why the requirement for a negative Covid-19 test to fly to the U.S. offers little benefit and doesn’t make sense at this stage.
I explained all of the scenarios in which a continued testing requirement would at least be coherent but none of those are situations we’re currently in.
- The testing requirement doesn’t actually keep out infected people (since antigen tests taken a day before departure will only capture a portion of infections)
- Or keep out new variants (which are incubating in the U.S. population given widespread infection
- The virus is already spreading widely in the U.S., so this doesn’t ‘keep the virus out’
- Vaccines and boosters are already available, allowing most Americans to be protected against severe outcomes anyway
- Outstanding treatments are about to become more widely available
It seems I’m not the only one that finds these specific arguments to be a persuasive reason to drop testing requirements to fly to the U.S. They’re the exact same arguments deployed by the U.S. airline industry in a new letter to the White House requesting that they drop the testing requirement.
“Doing so is justified by the pervasiveness of COVID cases in all 50 states, increased immunity and higher vaccination rates as well as new treatments,” said an industry letter to White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeffrey Zients, which was seen by CNBC.
My take continues to be that,
- The transportation mask mandate will end before election day
- Restrictions on foreigners are politically stronger, so it takes real lobbying by the industry (it would help to get Sara Nelson on board) to move the needle
- It would be especially awkward to drop a testing requirement right after the Biden administration started mailing tests to everyone. Leave aside that only some of those tests can be used for travel, it creates a bad optic to say testing isn’t important and we’re sending everyone tests.
Hopefully the industry’s muscle here is enough to end the practice and take a step back to normalcy.