ASTA demands the CDC issue guidance to ease confusion

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ASTA demands the CDC issue guidance to ease confusion

ASTA is calling on the CDC to immediately issue travel guidance to the public after a series of announcements -- including the requirement that all in

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ASTA is calling on the CDC to immediately issue travel guidance to the public after a series of announcements — including the requirement that all incoming international travelers provide proof of a negative Covid test and a national quarantine for travelers — has created confusion among the traveling public.

“The CDC’s numerous orders, in an effort to slow the spread of Covid-19, have created confusion, uncertainty and unpredictability, a chilling effect on future bookings and innumerable challenges for our travel agency members,” ASTA CEO Zane Kerby wrote in a letter to CDC director Rochelle Walensky.

Related report: ASTA asks Congress for $9.3B in grants for struggling travel agents

In the letter sent Tuesday, Kerby suggested a three-pronged approach to guidance for travelers.

First, he requested the CDC crate a framework, like those used at the state level, to determine phases of reopening determined by positivity, infection and vaccination rates. 

“Adoption of concrete milestones against which the enforcement of the various travel policies can be measured will ensure that travel advisors, suppliers and consumers can make informed decisions,” Kerby wrote.

Second, Kerby suggested the CDC exempt fully vaccinated individuals from its travel restrictions and permit suppliers to accept vaccination records to exempt those travelers. 

Finally, ASTA’s chief encouraged the CDC use technology like IATA’s Travel Pass Initiative or the Common Pass to relax requirements for those who have immunity or a negative test result.

“Those that are vaccinated or have sufficient levels of antibodies to prevent the transmission of Covid-19 should be permitted to resume normal travel activities,” Kerby said.

Clear CDC guidance needs to be accompanied by relief to the travel industry, as well, Kerby emphasized.

While action is necessary to curb the spread of the coronavirus, Kerby said, government mandates from the U.S. and elsewhere (like Canada’s closure of ports to cruise ships) “have had a catastrophic impact on the travel and hospitality industry.”

“The travel-reliant jobs that have survived nearly a year without meaningful business and revenue (many have not) are at immediate risk of collapse through no fault of their own,” he said.

Financial aid to the travel industry has been “tragically inadequate” thus far, Kerby said, especially toward travel agencies. He argued that when government action to protect public health is taken, the government also needs to help the businesses affected by said action.

“Our elected officials must take responsibility for the consequences of their actions as well as those of the regulators they charge with managing public health,” Kerby said.

ASTA is calling for targeted relief for travel agencies and other travel-reliant small businesses and mitigation efforts on the impact of Canada’s decision to suspend cruising until 2022.

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