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New bill would require vaccinations or tests for all domestic air travel

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California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) on Wednesday introduced a bill that would require all travelers to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus or test negative for the illness before any domestic air travel, WPVI-TV reported.

What are the details?

The bill, the U.S. Air Travel Public Safety Act, would require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in conjunction with the Federal Aviation Administration to develop industry-wide regulations for airlines to verify that passengers have either been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, tested negative for COVID-19 prior to travel, or have fully recovered from a COVID-19 infection.

In a statement on the bill, Feinstein said, "We know that air travel during the 2020 holiday season contributed to last winter's devastating COVID-19 surge. We simply cannot allow that to happen again."

"Ensuring that air travelers protect themselves and their destination communities from this disease is critical to prevent the next surge, particularly if we confront new, more virulent variants of COVID-19," she continued. "This bill complements similar travel requirements already in place for all air passengers — including Americans — who fly to the United States from foreign countries. This includes flights from foreign countries with lower COVID-19 rates than many U.S. states."

She concluded, "It only makes sense that we also ensure the millions of airline passengers that crisscross our country aren't contributing to further transmission, especially as young children remain ineligible to be vaccinated."

Infectious Diseases Society of America President Dr. Barbara D. Alexander, who supports the legislation, said, "Vaccination is a critical strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic, and vaccination requirements in multiple settings are an important mechanism to boost vaccination rates, prevent infections and hospitalizations and save lives. The Infectious Diseases Society of America supports Senator Feinstein's legislation to require vaccination for domestic air travel as part of our nation's broader COVID-19 vaccination strategy."

At the time of this reporting, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention require that all airline passengers traveling from foreign countries test negative for COVID-19 or provide proof that they have recovered from COVID-19. Earlier this month, President Joe Biden said that all foreign visitors must show proof that they have been vaccinated against the coronavirus before traveling to the U.S. in addition to providing proof of a negative test before travel.

On Wednesday, Feinstein tweeted, "We can't allow upcoming holiday air travel to contribute to another surge in COVID cases. Today I introduced legislation requiring passengers on domestic flights to be vaccinated, test negative, or be fully recovered from a previous COVID illness."

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