CDC to provide names of passengers on flights from southern Africa to health services

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Roger Dow, president and CEO of the US Travel Association, speaks at a press conference in Washington, DC, March 4, 2020 (Stefani Reynolds / Bloomberg / Getty Images)

Roger Dow, CEO of the US Travel Association, questions the logic of President Biden’s travel restrictions imposed on South Africa and seven neighboring countries as a result of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

“We want them to reconsider this quickly,” Dow told CNN in a telephone interview. “We have to follow the science – and a travel ban is not the most effective way.”

Dow, whose trade group represents all parts of the $ 1.5 trillion travel industry, said he had met the White House several times over the weekend and was very encouraged. Biden has signaled that he does not anticipate further restrictions.

“Even the WHO came out and said the data and the science didn’t back it up,” he said. “We don’t want it to go beyond South Africa.”

In a statement on Tuesday, the World Health Organization said “general travel banks will not prevent international spread, and they place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods.”

Dow, whose industry relies on a constant flow of foreign tourists, expressed confidence in existing health protocols for entering the United States, including requirements that visitors must be vaccinated and tested at the advance for Covid-19.

“It makes the people who arrive healthier than the Americans,” he said.

A little background: On Monday, the United States banned all travel from South Africa and seven neighboring countries except for U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, who must test negative to enter the country.

Senior US officials are considering new restrictions, including requiring that anyone entering the country be tested for Covid-19 the day before their flight and that all travelers – including US citizens and permanent residents – be tested again afterwards their return home, regardless of their vaccination status, CNN reported on Tuesday, citing sources familiar with the discussions.

Dow acknowledged the serious health challenge facing the United States, but suggested it should not overshadow other priorities. Direct travel employment fell 34% last year amid the pandemic, according to the US Travel Association.

“We have a health crisis, there is no doubt about it. But we have a jobs crisis, an economic crisis, a mental health crisis and a diplomatic crisis, ”he said.

Dow argued that having more foreign tourists would improve America’s standing in the world. “Bringing people here, going back and forth, that’s good public diplomacy,” he said.


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