Things are constantly changing and the situation is still developing with regards to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recently, we heard that the more contagious U.K. Variant was found in Orange County, Florida, we’ve shared about the new requirement for masks on flights and other forms of transportation, and we took a look at the new COVID-19 testing requirement that the U.S. might impose for domestic air travel. Now, it appears more COVID-19-related restrictions are under consideration, including potentially restrictions on domestic travel.
According to The Miami Herald, the White House is “considering whether to impose domestic travel restrictions, including on Florida” out of concern that coronavirus mutations may threaten to reverse the progress that’s already been made in fighting the pandemic.
The Miami Herald notes that while COVID-19 cases in Florida have declined in recent weeks, the U.K. variant has spread rapidly there. It now accounts for up to 15% of new cases in Florida. Scientists worry these variants can evade existing vaccines.
According to one White House official, “There are active conversations about what could help mitigate spread here, but we have to follow the data and what’s going to work.” But, two federal officials have noted that no policy announcements are imminent. Additionally, they have indicated that any move to restrict travel or impose other health measures would be made in partnership with local and state governments.
Executives and representatives from the travel industry are reportedly in talks with officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about potential new requirements or mandates.
Tori Emerson Barnes, the executive vice president of public affairs and policy at the U.S. Travel Association said, “The variants are certainly of concern obviously to the CDC, and I think that the uncertainty around the variants has put other proposals on the table.”
Meredith Beatrice, a spokesperson for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis noted that the governor “opposes travel restrictions and does not believe diagnostic tests should be a prerequisite to domestic air travel.”
The Miami Herald also notes that whether these travel restrictions will be effective as an intervention is unclear. One public health expert noted that the U.K. variant has already spread to 34 states, even though it might appear to be more concentrated in spots like Florida and California.
But, one immunology and infectious disease expert notes that even if its too late to stop the spread, a travel restriction could at least slow its exportation.
According to the Miami Herald, in the past, Federal officials have placed restrictions on domestic travel for people with infectious diseases, but a broad restriction to a larger population that may have been exposed is new.
The CDC currently uses a Do Not Board list to “prevent individual travelers from boarding commercial airplanes if they are known or suspected to have a contagious disease that poses a threat to the public’s health.” There are also “Lookout lists” that certain sick individuals can be placed on so they will be detected if they try to enter the US by land or sea. But, again, a broad restriction to a larger population would be something new.
As of yet, no specific domestic travel restrictions of this broad kind have been announced, but we will be on the lookout for more updates.
Update: According to the Financial Post, a White House spokesperson told Reuters: “To be clear, there have been no decisions made around additional public health measures for domestic travel safety. The administration is continuing to discuss recommendations across the travel space, but no specific decisions are under consideration.”
Thus far, a negative COVID-19 test has become necessary for international flights to the U.S., and there has been some discussion about vaccine passports potentially becoming required for air travel or other events soon.
At Disney World, policies regarding COVID-19 and masks have gradually changed over time as well. Some of the newer changes and updates include restricting guests from eating or drinking while in a queue for a ride, making specific requirements for masks with transparent parts, and noting that those who have received the vaccine must still wear masks in Disney World.
Disney has also updated its policies regarding social distancing and large groups, and we’ve gotten a look at Disney’s face mask policies for its water parks.
We’ll let you know as soon as we spot any other updates.