The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) penned a letter to the White House requesting modifications to current testing requirements for U.S. citizens.
In the letter to Jeffrey Zients, COVID-19 Recovery Team Coordinator for the White House, ASTA’s executive vice president, advocacy, Eben Peck, asked that U.S. citizens returning to the U.S. from abroad be exempt from required COVID-19 pre-flight testing.
In the letter, Peck said:
“At ASTA, we are committed to working toward a travel industry restart with federal, state and international governments, our members, and the broader travel ecosystem in a way that puts the safety and health of U.S. citizens at its center. That said, while we understand the rationale behind the inbound testing order, it continues to present a number of practical challenges to our members and their clients. These challenges range from uncertainty as to the availability of timely testing in-destination to avoid disruption to their return trip to the financial and psychological burdens associated with being prevented from returning home due to a positive (or false positive) test result, to a general chilling effect on international travel bookings. The recent shortening of the testing window from 72 to 24 hours has only exacerbated these challenges.”
Peck noted that the inbound testing requirement is the “single biggest barrier to the full recovery of the international travel system.”
He also said that “exempting the more than 200 million Americans who are fully vaccinated from the order would reflect the scientific consensus that widespread vaccinations are the single most important element of the fight against COVID-19 while allowing the travel industry’s recovery to begin in earnest.”
There are other countries following this same protocol. The United Kingdom, Ireland, Sweden and others, as well as the European Union, recommend no longer requiring vaccinated residents to undergo pre-departure tests.
Peck called for finding a balance between “protecting public health without crippling the free flow of commerce and individuals across international borders.”