Could vaccines be mandated for U.S. air travelers?

It was reported by the Washington Post that White House Chief Medical Advisor to the President Dr. Anthony Fauci is in support of a vaccine mandate for domestic air travel.

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“I would support that if you want to get on a plane and travel with other people, that you should be vaccinated,” he told theSkimm in a recorded interview.

The U.S. Travel Association disagreed with Fauci, noting that travel precautions used by airlines to control the spread of COVID-19 are already sufficient.

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“The science—including studies from the Harvard School of Public Health and the U.S. Department of Defense—overwhelmingly points to the safety of air travel as long as masks are worn. And with the federal mask mandate for all forms of public transportation and U.S. airports extended through January 2022, proper tools are already in place to enable safe air travel for Americans,” said U.S. Travel Association executive vice president of public affairs and policy Tori Emerson Barnes.

The association maintained that there should be no mandates for vaccinations for domestic travel.

“Such a policy would have an unfair, negative impact on families with young children who are not yet eligible to get the vaccine,” noted Emerson Barnes. “While U.S. Travel does not endorse a national vaccine mandate, we continue to believe that vaccines are the fastest path back to normalcy for all, and we strongly encourage all who are eligible to get a vaccine immediately to protect themselves, their families and their neighbors.”

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The Cook Islands will not reopen travel to New Zealand until there has been no community transmission of Covid-19 for 14 days and travellers over 12 have been fully vaccinated, Prime Minister Mark Brown says.

Cook Islands borders have been closed to New Zealand for more than three weeks since the first Delta case was first reported on August 16 in Auckland.

The country’s government closed off travel immediately, only allowing Kiwis in the Cook Islands to return.

Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown says his government is doing everything possible to protect the health of Cook Islanders and the country’s economy.

Ryan Anderson/Stuff

Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown says his government is doing everything possible to protect the health of Cook Islanders and the country’s economy.

Brown said the decision by his Cabinet might be disappointing to many, but those people now had at least some indication of when tourism may resume.

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He said that at some point in the future, all countries would have to live with Covid-19. However, that time wasn’t now for Cook Islanders, as they closely monitor New Zealand’s Delta outbreak and vaccination programme.

Torika Tokalau/Stuff

Cook Islands hotel owner Richard Vinsen says the past 15 months have been difficult but he’s hopeful the New Zealand travel bubble will revive the country’s fortunes.

“As one of the few countries in the world that has managed to keep Covid-19 out, we do not want to do anything to jeopardise the safety of our people,” Brown said.

“While we acknowledge that at some point in the future all countries will need to learn to live with Covid-19, that time has not yet come.

“We do not want an outbreak here. The impact on our health resources as well as our economy would be devastating.”

Brown said his government was doing everything possible to protect the health and wellbeing of Cook Islanders as well as the country’s economy.

The Cook Islands closed its borders to New Zealand as soon as a community case was identified in Auckland in August.

RYAN ANDERSON/Stuff

The Cook Islands closed its borders to New Zealand as soon as a community case was identified in Auckland in August.

More than 300 Cook Islanders stranded in New Zealand would have to wait until at least next Tuesday to find out if they could return home.

Brown said his government was looking at repatriation flights from Christchurch for those outside of Auckland in level 2 areas, but no dates had been set yet.

Those travellers would need to provide a negative Covid-19 test 72 hours before departure, complete a Cook Islands managed return application form and undergo a seven-day mandatory quarantine upon arrival into Rarotonga.

Brown said because of the risk of Covid-19, Cook Islanders in Auckland had to wait for a drop to level 2 or below before being allowed to catch a flight home.

His Cabinet would continue to review new information and advice from its health authorities when vaccination numbers increase in

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, thinks passengers should also be subject to a vaccine mandate in order to fly.
  • Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian called it a “logistical dilemma” trying to figure out who among the millions of passengers the airline carries every week has been vaccinated.
  • “U.S. Travel has long maintained that there should be no mandatory vaccination requirement for domestic travel,” Tori Emerson Barnes, the U.S. Travel Association’s executive president said.

President Joe Biden recently announced sweeping federal vaccine mandates in a bid to get COVID-19 cases under control, a move that will likely require airline employees to be vaccinated or take weekly tests.

But what about airline passengers?

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief medical adviser and the nation’s top infectious disease expert, thinks passengers should also be subject to a vaccine mandate in order to fly.

“I would support that if you want to get on a plane and travel with other people that you should be vaccinated,” Fauci said in a weekend interview with The Skimm.

Biden hasn’t publicly mentioned a vaccine mandate for flights but when asked about travel restrictions in a COVID-19 briefing Friday, Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 response team coordinator, said nothing is off the table. He pointed to the government’s Thursday announcement that fines will be doubling for passengers refusing to follow the federal mask mandate on planes and other public transportation.

►Doubling fines:Biden directs TSA to double the fines on travelers who refuse to wear a mask while flying

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“Overall, I think we have a … very strong track record that shows we’re pulling available levers to acquire vaccinations and we’re not taking any measures off the table,” Zients said.

When asked about a possible vaccine mandate for domestic flights at a different briefing Friday, Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, said: “We are always looking at more we can do to protect and save lives. Obviously, he made a significant and bold announcement yesterday, so I don’t have anything to preview – predict or preview for you, but we’ll continue to look for ways to save more lives.”

Would airlines go for a vaccine requirement for passengers?

The idea of vaccine mandates for flights would not be groundbreaking. Canada already requires air travelers to be vaccinated. 

U.S. airlines have generally been against a vaccination requirement for domestic travel, and repeatedly note that it’s already a de facto requirement for a lot of international flights because of countries’ ever-changing entry requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an interview with “CBS This Morning” in late August, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said he doesn’t see a vaccine requirement for U.S. flights happening.

Bastian called it a “logistical dilemma” trying to figure out who among the millions of passengers the airline carries every week has been vaccinated, not vaccinated or is exempt from vaccination rules.

“It would actually bottleneck the

President Biden’s chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci has come out in support of banning people from flying on airplanes if they are not vaccinated against COVID-19.

Fauci was asked during an interview with theSkimm on Monday if he would support a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for Americans in order to fly.

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“I would support that if you want to get on a plane and travel with other people that you should be vaccinated,” Fauci said.

The White House has not explicitly taken a federal vaccination requirement for air travel off the table.

Although, with Fauci’s influence as the president’s top doctor, the administration could sway in that direction if Biden chooses to follow suit, as he often has.

When asked if the White House was considering a vaccine mandate for air travel, an administration official pointed Fox News to White House coronavirus response director Jeff Zients’ comments from Friday when he was asked about the subject and remarking that is where the administration stood on the issue at the moment.

Zients did not take an air travel ban for unvaccinated Americans “off the table.”

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“As to travel, we’re taking further action, as you know, to double the fines for noncompliance of masking on airlines,” Zients said. “So that’s a TSA action that was announced yesterday.

“And overall, I think we have a – you know, a very strong track record that shows we’re pulling available levers to acquire vaccinations and we’re not taking any measures off the table,” he added.

Houston Keene is a reporter for Fox News Digital. You can find him on Twitter at @HoustonKeene.

France is joining the list of European travel destinations tightening restrictions on U.S. tourists as COVID-19 cases surge due to the delta variant.

Beginning Sunday, Sept. 12, only vaccinated visitors will be allowed to visit for vacation, the French embassy confirmed Friday. Non-vaccinated travelers can only visit for essential reasons and need a negative COVID-19 test. They also must isolate for seven days upon arrival. Currently, unvaccinated tourists just need to show a negative COVID test to enter France.

The moves come after the European Union’s decision on Aug. 30 to remove the United States from its list of safe countries due to a spike in COVID-19 cases, essentially recommending a ban of nonessential travel such as vacations. It is only a recommendation, with individual countries setting their own travel policies.

France already requires vaccination proof or a COVID test to visit restaurants and ride on trains as well as to visit popular tourist destinations including museums and the Eiffel Tower.

►International travel:European Union countries tightening COVID-19 restrictions for US tourists

►Travel testing:Here’s what travelers should know about at-home COVID-19 tests

The NetherlandsSpain and Denmark are also banning unvaccinated U.S. tourists and Italy has added entry requirements, even for those who are vaccinated.

The new restrictions add up to another confusing maze of entry requirements for travelers planning fall visits to Europe.

United Airlines says that more than half its employees who weren’t vaccinated last month have gotten their shots since the company announced that vaccines would be required.

The airline’s 67,000 U.S.-based employees face a Sept. 27 deadline for getting vaccinated. United said Wednesday, however, that employees whose bids for exemptions based on medical reasons or religious beliefs are denied will get five more weeks to get vaccinated.

After that, the airline said, they will face termination or unpaid leave.

Kirk Limacher, United’s vice president of human resources, made the statement about vaccinations Wednesday in memos to employees that spell out how United will handle requests for exemptions.

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United declined to say exactly how many employees have recently been vaccinated, what percentage of the workforce is now vaccinated, or how many workers requested an exemption. The airline said it will have enough workers to operate its schedule this fall and into the holidays.

The airline said that in most cases, employees who refuse to get vaccinated won’t be allowed into the workplace starting Oct. 2.

United says requests for medical exemptions will be judged by medical staffers including nurses, while requests for waivers based on religious beliefs will be handled by personnel-office employees.

The process for handling workers whose exemptions are approved will vary slightly depending on the employee’s job.

Workers who routinely come in contact with passengers, such as flight attendants, gate agents and pilots, and whose exemptions are approved will face indefinite unpaid leave starting Oct. 2. They won’t be allowed back on the job until the pandemic “meaningfully recedes,” according to one of the memos.

Employees who rarely deal with passengers – examples include baggage handlers and mechanics – and whose exemptions are approved will also be put on leave, but only until the airline comes up with a plan for weekly testing and mandatory mask-wearing for them.

Headquarters employees whose exemptions are approved will be placed on leave until United decides on safety measures, including whether the person needs to come into the office.

In explaining the rules to employees, United cites statistics on the state of the pandemic in the U.S., where new infections are at their highest level since March and “likely to rise into the fall as more people are hospitalized.” Most of the cases, hospitalizations and deaths are occurring among unvaccinated people, the memos said.

Chicago-based United has taken the strongest pro-vaccination stance among U.S. airlines. Delta Air Lines says it will levy a $200 monthly surcharge on unvaccinated employees who are covered by the company’s health plan. Others including American Airlines say they will cut off paid leave for unvaccinated workers who contract COVID-19.

The European Union removed the U.S. from its safe travel list earlier this week, as the Biden administration took measures to bolster the vaccine supply chain to meet the anticipated rise in demand.

Children Account for One in Five COVID-19 Cases

Last week, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children accounted for 22.4% of reported weekly COVID-19 cases, a substantial increase since the beginning of summer and well above the average seen since the beginning of the pandemic. Experts anticipate these numbers to increase as schools are reopening. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends indoor masking in schools for all students, staff, teachers and visitors, irrespective of vaccine status. Children under the age of 12 are unvaccinated, as no vaccine has been approved for use for under the age of 12 — but this week Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to President Biden, said there is a chance vaccines may be available for these children by the winter holidays. This week, CDC director Rochelle Walensky spoke about new data set to be released Friday that indicates more children are contracting COVID-19 because of increased disease in their communities — but that there is no increased disease severity, and that community-level vaccination is protecting children.

Restrictions on American Travelers Headed to Europe

This week the United States was removed from the European Union’s safe list for travel; however, the travel restrictions are not uniform throughout the continent. Only two countries have entirely blocked U.S. travelers from visiting — Bulgaria and Norway — while two others have only closed their border to unvaccinated Americans. Nine countries have quarantine requirements for unvaccinated travelers, and the remaining countries are open to American travelers but with certain pre-qualifying requirements, includingproof of vaccination, a EU Digital COVID certificate or a negative test results within a certain timeframe prior to arrival.

$3B To Improve COVID-19 Vaccine Supply Chain

White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients announced the Biden administration will spend $3 billion in expanding the domestic vaccine manufacturing supply chain by supporting the purchase of equipment, inputs, supplies and other necessities. This is intended to increase manufacturers’ capacity and capability to keep up with anticipated increase in demand, as eligible vaccinated Americans in the coming weeks will be heading to get their booster shot. The funds will be available to vaccine manufacturers as well as producers of personal protective equipment. During a news briefing, Zients said the funding will allow manufacturers to add new production lines and facilities and fulfill President Biden’s pledge to be the “arsenal of vaccines for the world.”

FDA Considers Booster Shots

The Biden administration recently announced the United States will begin rolling out booster shots of the mRNA vaccines in September, pending Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and CDC recommendations. Some public health authorities raised concerns that the White House’s announcement will pressure FDA and the CDC to endorse the extra shot, even if the data are insufficient. In a press release Wednesday, Peter Marks,

Travel Bubble amid vaccine politics the only way out for tourism

By Vipula Wanigasekera

Sri Lanka tourism revenue has slumped from US $4.4 billion at the peak to almost nothing in 2020. Among the other worst hit foreign exchange earners were foreign remittance, apparel, and tea exports. A senior hotelier representing Sri Lanka’s tourism power brand Jetwing, claims losses of over Rs 2.5 billion in 2020 were recorded the government’s debt moratorium. This is a crisis if not a catastrophe, but getting back on the feet requires calibrated policy decisions and careful scrutiny over what has worked and failed world over.

Sri Lanka’s tourism industry and authorities are trying hard to keep the hospitality sector from sinking until tourism picks up on its own. The purpose of this piece is to shed light on the ‘travel bubble’ concept, which has been referred to at various fora locally and internationally.

The ‘alleviation of fear’ in the minds of future traveler is a main prerequisite to bring tourists to Sri Lanka. This was similar to the travel advisories issued from time to time during the conflict. Tourists arrived regardless of warnings that country was at ‘civil war’ because the visitors themselves knew they were not targets. Can this notion be applied during Covid-19 too?

The deviation here is that ‘vaccine politics’ at play among powers, particularly in the West has hindered the global vaccination goals. Some nations concentrating on only vaccinating their populations and some others administering the third booster shot while the majority of the world languishes due to vaccine shortage, will not help tourism.  OXFAM International stated several months ago “rich nations were vaccinating one person every second while majority of the poorest nations are yet to give a single dose while developing countries were facing critical shortages of oxygen and medical supplies to cope with COVID-19”. This vaccine inequality will have dangerous consequences. One of them as per scientists is Covid-19 becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated.

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has attempted to override the monopolies held by pharmaceutical companies to allow an urgently needed scale up in the production of vaccines for poorer countries and enable more equitable access to the vaccines. The firms strongly opposed this and lobbied their governments not to approve WTO advances on account of intellectual property protection. Their profits have grown exponentially as a result.

In July this year, writer T.V. Padma in an article ‘COVID vaccines to reach poorest countries in 2023’ noted that ‘’around 11 billion doses are needed to fully vaccinate 70% of the world’s population against Covid-19 and as of July 2021 only 3.2 billion doses had been administered.’’ This vaccine gap can find relief in mass production and streamlined global distribution of the vaccine. China is at present the only country with the capacity to bridge this gap the fastest. This would also expedite plans for seamless travel bubbles.

The implication for tourism as a result of power politics has been severe. So far, more than

A woman attempting to use a fake COVID-19 vaccine card with the shot maker listed as “Maderna,” instead of Moderna, was arrested in Hawaii and is facing up to $5,000 in fines and potential jail time.

Chloe Mrozak was arrested at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu on Saturday for violating Hawaii Gov. David Ige’s emergency proclamation, Gary H. Yamashiroya, spokesperson for the Department of the Attorney General, confirmed to USA TODAY.

She was “attempting to bypass the state’s quarantine requirement by submitting a falsified vaccination card,” Yamashiroya said.

►’I’m conflicted’:Travelers weigh Hawaii plans after governor begs tourists not to come amid COVID-19 surge

►What it means for travelers:Hawaii’s governor tells tourists to stay away amid COVID-19 surge

Hawaii has the most stringent COVID entry requirements in the country under the Safe Travels program introduced in October. To bypass a mandatory 10-day quarantine, travelers must show proof of vaccination or present a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than three days before arrival.

Ian Scheuring, content distribution director at Hawaii News Now posted an image of the fake vaccine card on Twitter.

The fine for falsifying proof of testing or vaccination proof for travel in Hawaii carries a fine of up to $5,000 and/or prison time for up to one year for each count. 

“Our department will prosecute these crimes to the fullest extent provided by the law,” Yamashiroya said.

Mrozak was unable to post bail – which was set at $2,000 – and was placed in custody, pending a Monday court appearance. The case continued Wednesday for the waiving or demanding of a jury trial.

“The Department of the Attorney General is committed to vigorous enforcement of the Governor’s Emergency Proclamation,” Yamashiroya said. “Everyone should know that falsified CDC cards are a federal offense and in some states, it is a separate state charge.”

Yamashiroya said Mrozak was charged with one count of “Hawaii Revised Statutes 127A-29 Violation of Emergency Proclamation.”

Mrozak arrived in Oahu on Aug. 23, according to Hawaii News Now, and presented her vaccine card which read “Maderna” instead of “Moderna” leaving authorities with an inkling that something might be off, prompting an investigation.

The Department of the Attorney General declined to share an image of the vaccination card, but the images found online list her place of vaccination as Delaware with the National Guard administering the dose of “Maderna” to Mrozak. When investigators called the state, there was no record of her vaccination, according to Hawaii News Now.

Mrozak also left the airport having listed Holiday Inn Express in Waikiki as the location at which she would stay while in the Aloha state but her reservation couldn’t be confirmed, Hawaii News Now reported.

►CDC director says:Unvaccinated people should not travel Labor Day weekend

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Mrozak isn’t the first tourist to have been arrested for presenting false information in relation to COVID-19.

Last month, two more

Travelers visiting Honolulu, Hawaii, this fall will face new hurdles when visiting restaurants, bars, museums and other places.

Beginning Sept. 13, the popular tourist destination on the island of Oahu will require proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID test taken within 48 hours to enter establishments. Takeout is excluded and children 12 and younger are exempt. 

Places serving alcohol will also have to stop serving at 10 p.m.

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardisaid at a Monday news conference that the strict measures, which will last for a minimum of 60 days and come a week after he announced restrictions on gatherings, are needed given Hawaii’s dire COVID situation. 

He said Honolulu is offering two options for customers rather than just mandating vaccines after studying business fallout in other cities.

Hawaii reported 720 new cases Monday after a weekend of record-setting numbers. There are 414 COVID patients in hospitals, close to a breaking point.

Just a month ago, the number of daily cases was below 100 and, in January, when Blangiardi took office, the figure was 15 cases a day.

As many as a third of 911 calls in Honolulu over the weekend were COVID related, with serious issues including trouble breathing, suffocation and cardiac arrest, according to Dr. Jim Ireland, head of Honolulu’s emergency management services.

Help didn’t reach some of them in time, he said.

“This is in the name of public health,” Blangiardi said of the new restrictions.

He said he is against shutting down the economy again, even for a short period of time, despite a proposal from Hawaii Lieutenant Gov. Josh Green, a doctor, to issue a stay-at- home order for Labor Day weekend. 

“We don’t want a lockdown,” Blangairdi said. “But we need to all work…to ensure that we don’t all have to do that. And this is a good safe way to get it done.”

He said Honolulu is offering two options for customers rather than mandating vaccines after studying business fallout in other cities.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige took to social media Sunday to shut down talk of a lockdown.  

The Hawaii Restaurant Association supports the new requirements despite concerns they  could harm some businesses if people decide not to eat out.

“We need an end (to the COVID surge),” said Greg Maples, chairman of the association. “We need this to stop.”

Vaccine proof and COVID testing are Hawaii’s latest efforts to encouragevaccinations and control the COVID outbreak. 

Ige last week begged tourists not to visit Hawaii through October.

‘I’m conflicted’: Hawaii travelers weigh vacation plans after governor announcement