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Travel industry pushes White House for plan to lift international travel restrictions Covid-19

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COVID-19 vaccination registration card issued by the Centers for Disease Control

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U.S. Airlines and more than two dozen other industry groups on Monday urged the Biden administration to formulate a plan by May to lift international travel restrictions, including digital vaccine passport standards, as cross-border travel was disrupted in the Covid pandemic.

Airlines for America, which represents major American airlines such as American, United, Southwest and others, sent a paper to Jeffrey Zients, coordinator of the Covid-19 White House response team, saying the guidelines should exclude vaccinated people from international testing rules.

Among other recommendations, the groups called on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to update their guidelines to say vaccinated people can travel safely, according to a copy of the first letter from CNBC.

“To be clear, at this time, we do not support the removal or facilitation of essential public health protections, such as the universal mask mandate, the requirement for international test entry, physical distancing or other measures that have made the journey safer and reduce virus transmission, “said the letter, which was also signed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the largest flight attendant syndicate and other industry groups. “However, data and science show that appropriate public health measures are now in place to effectively mitigate the risk and allow the safe removal of entry restrictions.”

Most non-US citizens who have recently been to Europe, the UK and Brazil have been barred from entering the US since last March, when then-President Donald Trump set the rules while Covid-19 was spreading around the world. In January, President Joe Biden extended entry restrictions and added South Africa to the list due to an increase in infections and new, more contagious variants

The group also called on the White House to set standards for digital health documents that may show immigration officials vaccination evidence or test results.

In the meantime, airlines and officials have been looking for ways to use the digital vaccine or health passports to help boost travel and eventually replace travel restrictions. The European Union last week proposed a digital health certificate with a QR code containing the vaccine and Covid-19 test results.

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian told NBC Nightly News last week that he expects digital vaccine passports to be required for international travel.

The White House declined to comment and noted a recommendation against the trip that CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky gave on Monday.

“Now is not the time to travel,” she told a news conference.

“We are concerned not only about what happens when you are on the plane yourself, but what happens when people travel, i.e. they go out, get mixed up, mix with people who are not vaccinated,” she said.

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