Groups call for an end to pre-departure testing requirement to enter the United States

LAX. (Photo by Todd DeFeo/The DeFeo Groupe)

Aviation, travel and tourism associations want the United States government to eliminate the pre-departure testing requirement for fully vaccinated air travelers flying to the country.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), Airlines for America (A4A) and 28 US and other groups joined forces for the request.

The vaccinated traveler population adds no additional risks to the domestic population. They contend that increased immunity levels, the pervasiveness of COVID-19 in all 50 states, higher vaccination rates, and new therapeutics point to removing the testing requirement for fully vaccinated travelers.

“The experience of Omicron has made it clear that travel restrictions have little to no impact in terms of preventing its spread,” IATA Director General Willie Walsh said in a statement. “Moreover, as Omicron is already broadly present across the US, fully vaccinated travelers bring no extra risk to the local population.

“International travelers should face no additional screening requirements than what is applied to domestic travel,” Walsh added. “In fact, at this stage of the pandemic, travel should be managed in the same way as access to shopping malls, restaurants or offices.”

More than 74.3 million people — meaning at least 22% of the US population — have had COVID-19, and that is almost certainly an undercount owing to asymptomatic infections and limited testing early in the pandemic. When combined with an adult population that is 74% fully vaccinated, it is clear that the US is developing very high levels of population immunity.

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