The Biden administration announced a short extension to the federal mask mandate for 30 days.
While the short time period didn't draw much ire, there was a call for a clear plan.
"The Biden administration urgently needs to send a clear message to the American public and the world that it is safe to travel again, particularly for vaccinated individuals, despite this 30-day extension of the federal mask mandate," said U.S. Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow. "We continue to urge the federal government to phase out the mask requirement and put forward a clear plan for travelers within this 30-day period."
Dow noted that the industry still faces many obstacles.
"The travel industry continues to be challenged with a slow economic recovery even with improved public health metrics in the U.S. and medical advancements, especially in the business and international travel segments," said Dow. "The Biden administration can help to normalize travel conditions in their April 18 framework by repealing both the pre-departure testing requirement for vaccinated international inbound air travelers and the federal mask mandate."
John Maddox, owner of Tropical Getaways Travel, echoed Dow's statements.
Maddox noted that masking remains the best way to reduce the likelihood of transmitting or catching COVID-19 if you are not vaccinated. However, he called for clear messaging to the public.
"Half-measures and poor messaging have been the root of many of our problems from COVID-19. Whether it was the lockdowns that forced small restaurants and businesses to close while allowing big box stores to be deemed "essential" at the beginning of the pandemic or the faux pas that vaccines work to prevent 100% of infection," he said.
He also noted that it makes the job of the travel agent harder.
Although, some see the added 30 days as just a brief extension and a good idea since social distancing is hard in tight spaces while there are still higher rates of COVID-19 in the country.
"I personally believe that it's a good idea the mask mandate is continuing on aircraft," said Scott Lara, an experienced travel advisor from TheCruiseGenius.com. "While cruise lines and other travel destinations can offer social distancing, airplanes don't offer that protection. I believe the public won't mind wearing masks on aircraft for the short term."
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