So what are the chances of this happening? We know that the CDC is looking at all its options, but compared with international travel – the domestic picture is very different. The decision needs to be guided by data, by science, by medicine, and by the input of the people who are actually going to have to carry this out. There are obviously a few arguments that the idea is impractical, in that – there aren’t defined ports of entry. There’s also a risk the measure could divert scarce public health resources away from other priorities.
How has the international travel rule been met in the last few weeks, and are the same concerns as there was with that? There were many initial worries from both airlines and travel providers about the January 26th ruling, mainly to do with logistics and timing. For example if travelers are stranded because they are unable to obtain an in-destination test in time for departure (if at all), it would set off a domino effect of issues like missed connections, and canceled flights. Thi in turn could cause people to actually cancel any travel altogether. The same issues would be prevalent with a domestic travel ruling that requires testing and could further delay the recovery of the whole hospitality sector. In fact the argument could be made that if a testing mandate is prescribed by the Administration, funding should also be provided to comply.
How much realistically is domestic air travel contributing to COVID-19 numbers?Travel of any sort puts you in situations where you are outside of your immediate circle of people. However, we know that there is strong scientific evidence that the risk of Covid-19 transmission onboard an aircraft is very low. Imposing such a burden on the already financially impacted airline industry has the potential for severe consequences that will ripple across the entire economy. In that token, the ruling – if not carefully thought through, would not just cause logistical problems but financial ones too.
And how would that change the landscape of travel yet again?The fear many airlines have stated that they have for passengers is that the ruling would keep people away from what they need to do in terms of starting to get back out for not just essential travel, but people need to start reclaiming their lives. The CDC wants to encourage people to NOT travel at all, but this is tricky, and they know that – so in their mind the ruling would be justified as yet another mitigation measure to try and decrease the spread. My concern is this causing a further divide between the CDC and the hospitality industry, when what we need now is unity to get anything done – when it comes to reopening travel and giving people solid not mixed messages.