Congressional Call for Exempting Vaccinated Travelers from Inbound Testing

It’s become one of the last major issues affecting the travel industry: the inbound antigen testing rule for Americans seeking to reenter the U.S. If they test positive, they are forced to quarantine abroad until they test negative—something that has become the greatest barrier to travel today.

That’s why the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) is praising the move by a bipartisan group of 16 members of Congress led by Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) to exempt vaccinated travelers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) inbound testing order.

“While we understand the rationale behind the inbound testing order when it was put in place in January 2021, it continues to present a number of challenges to our constituents…whose livelihoods depend on a fully functioning international travel system,” the members of Congress wrote in an April 11 letter to President Joe Biden. “As we enter the third year of the pandemic and reflect on how far the science related to COVID-19 mitigation has advanced since the order was first put in place, we respectfully request that fully vaccinated travelers be exempted from the order….Exempting fully vaccinated travelers, including almost 215 million Americans, from the order would be consistent with 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. It would also incentivize those who aren’t vaccinated to consider becoming so.”

“We commend Congressman Correa and all of his colleagues who signed onto this important letter for recognizing that the CDC’s pre-departure testing rule is the single biggest barrier to the full recovery of the international travel system on which so many of their constituents in the travel industry rely,” said Eben Peck, ASTA’s executive vice president for advocacy. “Making the common sense change these legislators are calling for is widely supported by stakeholders throughout the industry and would match changes our main outbound markets have recently made, including the U.K., EU, Canada and Australia. It would also supercharge the recovery of the travel agency business, as some of the more than 215 million Americans who have been putting off international travel because of this rule call their travel advisor and get ready to go.”

Over the past few months, ASTA has petitioned the White House directly for this change, has worked toward the same as part of a broad-ranging coalition and has acted as a thought leader on the topic to raise awareness of the inbound testing order’s negative impact on the travel industry.