US May Require COVID Testing For Domestic Flights

Filed Under: Travel

As of this week the US is requiring pre-travel testing for all international travelers arriving in the US. Could this requirement soon be expanded to domestic flights?

COVID-19 testing coming to domestic flights?

Reuters is reporting that the Biden administration is “actively looking” at introducing a coronavirus testing requirement for those flying domestically within the US. This is according to a senior Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official.

When asked about whether we may see a domestic testing requirement, Dr. Marty Cetron said there were “conversations that are ongoing and looking at what the types and locations of testing might be, we’re actively looking at it.”

This follows President Biden last week making it clear that the government is working on “imposing additional public health measures for domestic travel.”

If implemented, I’d guess that the policy would be similar to international flights, where testing is required in the three days leading up to your flight, and a rapid antigen test is sufficient.

Could the US start requiring testing for domestic travel?

My take on coronavirus testing for domestic travel

I’m not sharing this because I’m assuming that it’s a sure bet that this policy will be implemented, but rather I’m sharing it because this is allegedly under consideration, and I figure it’s worth at least talking about. What’s my take on this?

On the most basic level, testing is good. If we could all get tested every day, we’d have the pandemic much more under control, since we’d more easily be able to isolate people who are infected, and also contact trace. Of course testing everyone every day isn’t realistic, or at least is highly unlikely to ever happen.

For context on the scale of testing we’re talking about (this is all very rough math):

  • Based on pulling up some quick data, it looks like on average about one in every 250 people in the US gets tested for coronavirus daily
  • Therefore there are roughly 1.3 million tests administered in the US daily
  • There are on average currently somewhere around 600-800K travelers in the US daily
  • If those numbers stayed the same, about a third of testing in the country would be done for those traveling

The way I view it:

  • Requiring testing for domestic flights would probably significantly harm airlines in terms of reduced passenger demand, but that might not necessarily be a bad thing for the country overall
  • While I don’t think flying as such is that risky (between good air circulation and mask compliance), travel does tend to cause people to interact with more people, be more social, and take more risks than at home
  • Getting a rapid antigen test isn’t exactly a huge barrier to travel, and just like we’ve seen hotels introduce convenient and affordable testing options, there’s no reason the same couldn’t be done for air travel
  • Sometimes I can’t help but wonder if testing in this context is almost a bad thing in terms of how it impacts behavior; many people incorrectly assume that because they tested negative at some point that they are “safe” and can take more risks, and that almost seems more dangerous as someone heads out on vacation

So yeah, that’s why I don’t have a strong take here one way or another.

This policy would cause the demand for air travel to decrease

Bottom line

The Biden administration is looking into requiring pre-travel testing for domestic flights. This follows a similar policy being introduced for international flights as of this week. I’ll be curious to see what comes of this, as I can see both sides.

On the one hand, more testing is good, and this may discourage people from flying. On the other hand, this would probably have a negative impact on airlines, and I have to wonder if this kind of a testing requirement could be more useful elsewhere.

What do you make of the prospect of the US requiring pre-travel testing for domestic flights?

  1. This would be terrible. CAn you imagine the lines to check in if everyone had to show proof of a negative COVID test?

  2. Almost a year into this pandemic and we still can’t access consistent, reliable, and fast Covid testing, so this will just kill air travel. A lot of us would love to get tested before we travel, but we can’t get tested and have results back in time, so we don’t do it. No administration can just say “go get tested if you want to do this!” without first ensuring that people actually can get tested. I’m in the DC area, which is way ahead of a lot of the country on keeping numbers lower, and having great medical facilities, and even our “guaranteed test results in 24 hours” options have been unable to keep that promise and are returning results in 2-4 days. The whole thing is a mess.

  3. This would kill travel and put undue costs on airlines to ascertain that someone has a negative results. Moreover, these tests are horribly unreliable either way. More stupid ideas from moronic politicians to appease the feeble minded masses.

    All for a virus that has something like a 99.8% survival rate for those under age 70.

  4. I 100% support this IF the US Government is prepared to offer free or at-cost testing pre-security at all US Airports. Otherwise they’re singling out the airline industry while anyone can jump on Amtrak or a Greyhound or in their car and move from community to community.

    Forcing a requirement when you know that there isn’t enough testing capacity (volume or speed) to meet the mandate is just taking 25-50% of airline’s already anemic passenger volume away.

  5. This is a terrible idea that is highly unlikely to meaningfully lower numbers. What it will do is increase traffic fatalities, which is the inevitable result of decreasing air traffic.

  6. Not sure about this. On one level travel between regions in the US isn’t an issue because the virus is everywhere. On another level, if the aim is to reduce travel to reduce cross-infection this could be the way to do it. Americans haven’t been that receptive to minimising travel, this may be a way to do that. Arguably if that is the aim it is too little too late. Here in Australia, single cases have resulted in border shut-downs. Could this be a useful constraint on travel?

  7. I wonder if it will negatively impact testing capacity, many nationwide and regional labs are overloaded as is and longer turn around times. Has to be looked at as it might impact other areas where effective testing is more important then travel

  8. Ugh. A negative antigen test result is only about 80-85% accurate. You can’t use a one-off antigen test to screen for the virus.

    A positive antigen test is basically 100% accurate. But a negative one is not meaningful.

  9. It would end up being a de facto travel ban. Most people have access to free testing at home, but it’s a completely different story on the road, when you’re in a city as a nonresident.

    And then what happens if you test positive away from home, and no airline hotel or car rental company will accept you?

  10. It’s the right thing to do. Implement it now. The government is already subsidizing the airline industry…they’ll be here when this is over.

  11. Terrible idea…not only inconvenience, although that too…what prevents a person from driving somewhere instead of flying? …what if someone takes a test in the morning, and later in the day gets exposed and ‘catches’ Covid? His test will show “negative’ when in fact he is not…

  12. Show me any data on how many Covid spreads happened in airplanes? How many people got infected by flying on airplanes. Unfortunately this new administration, which promised so much before the election, is now proving to have no clue about how to deal with the pandemic. “There’s nothing we can do to change the trajectory of the pandemic in the next several months.” Great!!! That is not what you said when you were asking for votes.

  13. “Of course testing everyone every day isn’t realistic, or at least is highly unlikely to ever happen.”

    Lol, the FDA is to blame for this.
    We could easily have cheap, at home testing, being done by every person, every day.

    but, the government doesn’t allow it.

  14. Also what about people like me that travel weekly. Do I need to get a test every week? Talk about something that would kill business travel and postpone it’s return. Hopefully, the airline industry realizes what a disaster and logistical nightmare this would be and lobbies against it.

    How about train travel? Interstate bus travel? Mass transit?

  15. Good. It would stop all those unnecessary OPM flights that people still keep taking for work catching and spreading the virus to make their corporate overlord some extra money.

  16. An anecdote to support Ben’s suggestion that pre-travel testing provides a false sense of security: Last month, I flew from IAH-SCL on United and the man sitting across the aisle from me — who was very chatty with the FAs and clearly a frequent flyer based on his bragging about his most frequent routes and such — did not wear a mask for much of the flight on the grounds that everyone on the flight had been tested in the days before. When the FA told him how many times he had needed to quarantine due to exposure on flights, the man ignored him and continued not to wear his mask. As far as I could tell, the FAs – despite being excellent in every other regard – did not enforce the mask policy.

  17. This would kill the airline industry. Why not mandatory testing for indoor dining, religious ceremonies, BLM protests, going to Costco, riding the subway, etc. The airline industry is always put on a pedestal above everything else when it comes to bailouts and restrictions.

  18. Look at the numbers of deaths and infections. It’s time to get serious, stop the wacko complaints, require testing, require mask wearing, stop pandering to the nuts who still think the pandemic will somehow just disappear. It boggles the mind that measures to make flying safer are discounted. Do you really want a recovery, a return to normality, or not? If you do, support required testing and recognize that the longer you ignore public health actions, the longer this deadly pandemic will last.

  19. What if flight total trip is less than 2 days? Rapid testing would be the only option. Not all US airports/cities offer Rapid testing…

  20. What I love about this country is that we’re a day late and a dollar short to basically everything. Seriously, the testing strategy is great, but community spread is the name of the game – it’s happening on every sidewalk and store.

    Top priority: vaccinate all citizens. Does the national guard not have enough vaccines? Figure out how to mass-produce them (and yes, all the equipment to go along with it) with your 2 trillion dollars and get this crap done in 3-4 months.

  21. I’d rather the airlines strictly enforce KN-95 or better mask wearing. It would be more effective and far less disruptive.

  22. This will only ever work if home test kits become readily available as being promised. Not the ones you mail back for results, but the ones that are like pregnancy tests. Otherwise, this will be a disaster for domestic air travel. Especially last minute business travel, be what it may.

  23. @Andrew: it appears the priority is to send $4 BILLION to help development in countries in Central America. Also, the same guy that said last March that masks were not necessary, then said masks were necessary and now says we need 2 masks together. Summary is: nobody knows anything and as you said they should focus on distributing vaccines asap.

  24. Biden personally wants people to avoid planes, trains, and elevators. He said this during the last threatened epidemic. He does not tweet his feelings like Trump but shares flawed thinking occasionally.

    Biden’s thinking of testing is a lot of red tape and effort for minimal gain. Higher yielding measures include opening up vaccination to middle aged people. These people don’t shelter in place. Some elderly are very compliant with stay at home to the point of near incarceration so their Covid risk is low.

  25. Good. I had to do this for Hawaii. There is a right and wrong way to get it done. For travel to Hawaii, you get a test from one of the state’s partners, who expedites it so you have results before flying. You then upload your test results to the state and you get a QR code clearing you for travel. It’s very simple and effective.

    Given the huge spikes in COVID post-holiday travel, this is a must. Over 420,000 people have died. Let’s actually do something to stop the spread and not just pretend like the pandemic doesn’t exist.

  26. And of course people aren’t spreading it on a plane. Air travel is very safe. But asymptomatic people who aren’t getting tested are getting on planes, traveling across the country, and then gathering with family with zero safety precautions and spreading it to everyone. That’s what happened over the holidays. It needs to stop. If you have COVID, you can’t travel.

  27. So much for the billions of tax payer dollars that have been tossed to the airlines the past 12 months. This would kill the airline industry, destroy interstate/intrastate commerce and thus send this nation into a severe depression. This is by far the dumbest idea being floated…but then again it does come from the current administration. It has been proven that these test are not 100%, so what is the purpose. I have no sympathy for the airlines if they agree to this…they will reap what they sow. If they don’t fight this then I see at least three airlines going completely out of business…two LLC and at least one major carrier.

  28. Would this even be constitutional?

    What about the next Wuhan virus? Once you impose this, you might as keep it forever because there is always another pandemic.

  29. In principle, I think this is a good idea. More testing is a good thing and if this is the impetus to finally build out the testing infrastructure in this country then I’m all for it. Our principal concern shouldn’t be the airline industry (It’d be totally worth it to give them a bail out for this), it should be the health of the population.

    That said, the current testing infrastructure is a joke and can’t support this. I got a PCR test on Saturday in order to travel yesterday to Chicago, which requires either a negative test within 72 hours of arrival or a 10 day quarantine on arrival, and I after emailing the testing coordinator that I needed results, I literally received the results while I was in my seat on the plane prior to departure.

    There is no reason that testing should still be as crummy as it is, but I guess the government has only been working on the problem for about a week. Honestly, we should have testing available to do any high risk activity like indoor dining or using public transportation, but we just haven’t built out the infrastructure. There should have been a government push to train 100,000 new lab techs back in April, but alas that hasn’t happened and instead we’ve relied on the free market.

    What might be more effective would be to use the DPA to seize N95 manufacturing plants, then just start mailing a share of the N95 masks produced to homes.

  30. This will do zero to contain coronavirus. It will destroy airlines, hotels and the travel industry. So all the flight attendants and hotel employees that will lose their jobs can thank themselves for voting for Joe Biden.

  31. Stop already! This is the dumbest idea yet! This will spell the end of the airline industry as we know it today. I predict three airlines will completely shut down…2 LLC and one major carrier. This is unsustainable at all levels, and would destroy interstate and intrastate commerce and send this nation into a deep, long lasting depression. Maybe that is by design.
    Air travel is essential for our economy to survive. If you don’t feel safe to travel by air…don’t. No one is forcing anyone to travel anywhere. And this won’t stop people from traveling.

  32. This is only further convincing me not to fly to Italy/Spain at all this year. It’s already bad enough that I have to comply with Italian/Spanish/EU rules but this is drawing the line.
    Thank you for voting out mean twitter man and bringing in an actual control freak.

  33. This is GREAT!

    The pandemic is out of control. People just ignore it and go about their lives as if it was 2019. So it continues to get worse. It will continue to get worse, because too many people simply refuse to take it seriously. With half a million US deaths from the pandemic on the horizon and no end it sight, it’s long past time to start taking it seriously. Sorry for the inconvenience.

    Biden said this a couple days ago: “We are in a national emergency. It’s time we started acting like it.” Damn right.

    Hallelujah. This is long overdue. Bring it on. Let’s have more of this, please!

  34. @ turkfresser

    Did you just reference Chinese propaganda that the virus was created in Fort Detrick by the US military? You must be either from China or anti-American.

    Anyway, the beauty of all this is that no matter what is or isn’t implemented they can no longer blame Trump for everything, that ship has sailed, it is now all on Biden and his team

  35. If efficiently implemented, domestic travel testing is not an unreasonable goal. Team Biden = Not Implementers. Can’t wait to see the list of exempt groups: crew, teachers, autoworkers, all public sector union card holders, congressmen (if voted for impeachment only) … $10,000 to DNC gets you an essential American get-out-of-testing-line free card.

  36. @Dave Weis – you are wrong that “No one is forcing anyone to travel anywhere”. This is not the economic environment where people can just walk away from their job because it makes them feel unsafe. We need to do what we can to make commerce safer because Republicans refuse to take basic safety measures, and this is a noble step toward that.

  37. To all of you saying that air travel is safe, I would like to remind you that our resident nutjob Derek thinks you should be jailed and charged with murder for spreading dangerous lies.

  38. In principle this is a good idea. In practice, we simply do not have enough testing capacity. That may be the point – this will limit travel. But what about people who really do need to travel (e.g., to see a loved one on their death bed) and can’t get a test in time because of the huge demand from vacationers? What about the people who need a covid test because they’re showing symptoms and can’t get a timely one because of all those vacationers ahead of them in line?

    The only way this policy would make any sense is if there were abundant, inexpensive rapid testing. But ramping that up would take at least as long as it will take to vaccinate everyone who wants to be vaccinated, and probably longer. So why bother?

  39. You’re never going to convince me that a major contributor of the problem is airplanes. It’s all the other stuff that people routinely blow off like masks, social distancing, avoiding social events, family gatherings, indoor dining and the list goes on and on. It’s easy to point the finger at air travel since these huge spikes in COVID follow holidays. I know of several people who got sick after Thanksgiving and Christmas who never set foot on an airplane but did attend family social events. And of course, no one ever fesses up to how they get infected – it’s always a great mystery. As long as people refuse to take personal responsibility these draconian rules will probably be implemented. And they will hit the airlines hard. The airlines could help themselves by enforcing every other seat policies, so they haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory (although Delta seems to be doing well).

    It would be nice if Biden and his COVID task force would signal that early results are showing that vaccinated persons are not shedding virus and therefore vaccine status should eventually confer relief from all the testing and travel restrictions. Worse than the testing hurdles and quarantines is the unknown duration of the eventual return to a more normal state. We are all sick and tired of this crap, especially those of us who get tested three or four times for each trip and must endure quarantines, now at both ends.

    Are those of us who travel for work going to bear a larger burden for all those who refuse to take personal responsibility? I’m against domestic testing for air travel because I feel it punishes one segment of society and industry unfairly for the spread of the virus.

  40. Bye bye what little leisure travel was going to be done in 2021. This would be a deterrent. I wouldn’t go to a Covid testing site unless I had symptoms let alone leisure flying.

    I’m good with hotels. I wipe down surfaces and what not in my room. I see housekeepers doing extra cleaning. I wait for the next elevator if it’s not empty.

  41. @ snic @ Andrew (and others) — Yeah, you’re not wrong. It’s a very “nations behave wisely when they have exhausted all other resources” vibe, but the reality of the situation is that to have any stable economic recovery, we’re going to have to spend this year doing a lot of the things we should have done last year.

    So yes, we need to ramp up and have way more testing. We also need to actually purchase/procure enough vaccine doses for the population, and since it’s going to take a minute to do that and then get those shots in arms, we also have to make a collective effort to limit the spread (and associated potential for viral mutations) in the meantime, so those vaccines are actually effective.

    The economic impacts of an uncontrolled pandemic are estimated to be something like $10B per day (domestically), so there is an argument to be made for “doing all the things” even if it only speeds up the resolution by a month, or a week.

  42. Should have happened last year. Especially when every airline started running 500 daily flights to Florida.

  43. This would absolutely kill air travel. Many (large) cities in the United State of America do not have
    the ability to return a test within the required travel time. Members of my immediate family have been victim of this three times. If you don’t have symptoms, can’t get the test. Want to take a test for travel, it’s costly – if you can get a timely appointment and then the results still don’t come back in time to actually board the plane. If you don’t want to travel, don’t. But you better be more than careful the next time you walk into Costco or Walmart. I’ll continue flying.

  44. Good news. According to Forbes and numerous other news sources across the globe, China has introduced a new form of testing which is supposedly far more accurate. Anal swabbing. Seriously it is being reported across several news sources. Fascinated to know how drive through testing would work in Australia.

    BTW we don’t need testing domestically but for several states you need border entry permits. It does rely on people to be honest and say whether they had been to a hotspot in the last 14 days. Honesty is they key.

  45. I am 100% supporting pre-travel Covid testing, as well as everyone in US to get tested everyday, wearing triple masks, and also allowing to visit supermarkets only at specific time at specific days. This should be in addition to get vaccinated every month with buster shots.

  46. If there was a 15 min reliable test that worked with salvia and paid for by either the airline or USA, sure no issue here.
    But this isn’t a make believe world, and no way will this “fly”.
    I’d go private.

  47. It’ll only take 2~3 more months until everyone who wants to be vaccinated in the US will be vaccinated. People need to stop whining for 2 months. If everyone in North America was confined to their homes for 2 weeks and then cross-continent travel banned, this thing would have been contained months ago. Instead, we can barely keep masks on and have worse case % and death % than even the city it originated in. Our combined inability to put greater good ahead of our temporary individual convenience is sad for us and laughable to other countries.

  48. This is being discussed right at a time when the largely responsible folks were just starting to make plans again. Haven’t seen my parents on the other side of the country since December, 2019 and since they’ll be 30 days past their second vaccine dose in early March, we’ve been talking about trying to get together at that point. I’ll admit to high annoyance if this adds one more layer to making that hard.

  49. The “largely responsible folks” will continue to be largely responsible. Those who have been irresponsible will continue to be, until someone forces them to stop. That’s long overdue.

    The Trump era is over. Trump ignored, fought, delayed and minimized every responsible public health measure that should have been taken. Unfortunately, all the inconvenient measures that we should have taken during Trump’s rule now need to start – we have effectively been avoiding “payment” for the pandemic, and now the bill is due…..with interest. And with 400,000 Americans dead, too.

    We have been digging ourselves into a very, very deep hole. It’s time to stop digging.

    Requiring a negative covid test before flights and requiring a 14-day quarantine after the flight for all domestic travel is a good start. I’m all for it.

  50. Maybe this works in NY but you heard it hear first Texas is a sanctuary state. Ain’t no one getting swabbed in their nose for Covid here just to get on a plane to go from Houston to Charlotte or from Dallas to Lubbock. Good luck with that . You think the FAA will ground flights ?

  51. @The Original Donna

    I agree that the actual act of being on an airplane is unlikely to be a major transmission source, based on the limited (albeit somewhat flawed) studies that have been published. However, when many (most?) people do fly, the tend to be going someplace to do those other risky behaviors that you mentioned. The surge of cases around the holidays was probably less about someone putting on a mask and getting on a plane, and more about those people taking their masks off when they get to their destination and eating dinner with grandma.

    Unfortunately, it is difficult to get someone to wear a mask when they are hanging out with friends and family. So this testing requirement will make it more difficult to get there to begin with.

  52. I’m all for increased widespread and efficient testing, but there is no way our current testing infrastructure could support this. They’re just throwing crap at the wall here to see what sticks.

  53. Healthcare/frontline workers have to test daily. So the vast majority of these daily tests are from them.

    If this happens, expect passenger travel to plummet and one or two US carriers to go bankrupt. When this happens, all those who championed this daily domestic testing, well, do not complain when there is even less choice available.

  54. Testing as said above means nothing as negative today then???? who knows.. I had to get a test to go to liberal left sided colorado(it is in calif like lockdown ) even tho I have been vaccinated and no symptoms TOTALLY NUTS ..If you have no symptoms your insurance company will not reimburse you for the $125 for testing.. Testing before flying each time is insane and a bunch of political garbage….and lots of wasted $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$i hope the airline lobbyists fight it and all of them regret voting for the demented Joe

  55. Mixed feelings on this. Sure testing would MAYBE help in that the few people that test positive wouldn’t fly. BTW rapid antigen testing is pretty much available anywhere for $100-$150 (and sometimes under $100 plus may be covered by insurance). However doesn’t do a think about people driving between states.

    Also, while COVID is still bad the levels are coming down due to getting over holiday surge and beginning to to see impact of herd immunity (20-50% of US has likely been infected and vaccination (currently around 5% of US) is growing rapidly) so frankly not sure something like this is needed.

    I have a number of leisure flights planned (retired so no more business flights) and if I had to get tested it wouldn’t cause me to cancel any of my trips.

  56. @George N Romey
    I am required to test for Covid-19 every week already – takes about 10-15 min out of my time. But the benefits for the company doing the testing are huge! They are charging my employer about $100/test. Imagine, if this requirement would change to one test per day – their revenue would increase five fold! This also keeps those folks employed. An interesting point from my weekly tests is that nobody is watching where in my body I put those Q-tips…
    Right now CDC is trying hard to come up with anything, anything that would demonstrate their initiative and pro-activeness to justify their existence. But there is no feedback and no evaluation whether or not any measures they suggest are effective The real and sad truth is nothing they mandate would change the course of the pandemic.

  57. The US has been the most irresponsible developed nation in its response to COVID. It beggars belief there is opposition to attempts to control the virus in a country that it quickly heading for 500,000 deaths.

    There are various comments about delays and inconvenience here but as @Jake noted “Our combined inability to put greater good ahead of our temporary individual convenience is sad for us and laughable to other countries.” Though I would say astounding rather than laughable.

    Aside from the shocking human tragedy, the US economy will never fully recover while COVID is raging.

  58. I’m with @jake.. @ @bruce

    a little too late

    Yes I want to travel (avg 150k miles a year 1996-2019 )
    Yes, living in FL, I want to see family in UK & NZ and return to flying & diving around the world

    to all naysayers.. Vaccine may prevent you from serious illness BUT it it NOT PROVEN that you will not continue to spread the virus.

    Precautions (masks AND social distancing) and will need to continue

    NO i am not a scaredy cat.. just a sensible person that has chosen not to travel and sadly not seen family for a year !!!

  59. Maybe Peter can tell us how many countries out there require their citizens to get tested before flying domestically.

    I’ll check back in a while for his answer.

  60. This will be interesting. I do not have any travel plans, but what if I had a family emergency, for example? I work in public safety in the Washington, DC area and I am able to get a PCR-type test anytime I believe that I may have had an exposure. The results take 5-9 days. It is very expensive for the agency when I am placed off work, but that does not speed up the results.

    I just had a hep A booster at the travel clinic and asked about last minute testing. The clinic told me that PCR test results are generally obtained within 48-72 hours, but no guarantee, i.e. if the timeline exceeds 72 hours, you don’t get your (I think) $185 refunded. Nor will my health insurance reimburse for a out of pocket test.

  61. I received my second shot of the Vaccine about two weeks ago and I plan to leave the country. I am told that before coming back to the USA or transiting through the USA, I would need a PCR or rapid antigen test.
    Would they apply the same for domestic travel as well? As a humanitarian doctor, I do travel to remote areas and I have no problem getting a PCR or antigen test but I wonder where I would go for a test in a place like Leticia in Colombia ? and get the results within two days to comply with the 72 hour window?
    PS Currently I am marooned in Miami as the majority of my usual destinations are either closed or require quarantine.

  62. Airlines could require that an authorized testing agency send the results to your airline – and keep you out of the loop. You provide the airline and your FF number to the test facility. The date of the test must be within three days of departure to be able to get a boarding pass.

    Then if you need to get tested again for your return.

    Makes sense considering the pandemic. Then when you get the vaccine, that can be sent to the airlines and they eliminates the pre-test requirement.

  63. This would cripple the airline industry even more and swamp health care workers for rapid test. We are almost a year into this pandemic in the US, people still don’t have access to rapid testing or even free testing for some. This protocol should have been enforced when mask wearing was enforced, why is it a year later that they are adding and adding stuff for protocol. What’s next rapid testing for those riding buses and trains?

  64. @Patti

    I can only speak about Australia and New Zealand. Testing is not required domestically as we have largely been able to contain the virus because we locked down early, both domestically and internationally, and adhered to recommended behavours.

    We’ve had border closures between states and internationally:
    – mandatory hotel quaranting monitored by police or army when coming into both countries and sometimes between states;
    – an exemption required for citizens to travel internationally;
    – mandatory mask wearing; and
    – government support for affected industries.

    You may well say, what about my freedoms? However, this is a case where both populations have recognised the benefit of sacrifice for the greater good and not complained about infringement of individual rights. Consequently, the Australian death toll is under 1,000 and New Zealand 25. Yes, much smaller populations but do the maths on a proportionate basis.

    The checks and policies now being instituted in the US are a direct consquence of poor government policy decisions and the unwillingess of parts of the popultion to comply with science-based recommendations. Americans are now dying from COVID 4 times are fast as america forces died in WWll.

    @Patti, are you still complaining about testing before getting into a steel cube and sitting at close quarters with 100+ passengers?

    In Australia, state borders have until recently been closed so domestic travel has been very limited.

  65. If this happens, several years from now, just like they did with 9/11 and TSA restrictions, some economists will study the trade-off effects of making domestic air travel even more costly (with one’s time / patience), and probably find again that more people statistically died from trading off air travel for (relatively far more dangerous) driving than died from COVID as a result of domestic viral spread. Especially amidst older people, at two orders of magnitude higher death risk than the median, getting vaccinated already. We should not need to re-learn lessons that making air travel onerous *costs lives, statistically – many of them*.

    The failure to think carefully and quantitatively about trade-offs, compensating differentials, unintended consequences, non-linear curves, and the asymmetry between visible and invisible costs is one of the most inexcusable features of public discourse – on *both* sides.

    I’ll put a foot in my mouth when/if this policy comes coupled with a thorough analysis of costs and benefits, and some even rudimentary expected value calculation. Not holding my breath. People just don’t even think in those terms. The tools aren’t there.

  66. @Peter
    -Australia and NZ are not Europe, nor America: in this they are privileged by being at the geographic end of the world, and for the purpose of immediate caseload reduction, closing borders made more sense at your place
    -when and to whom is Australia going to ever reopen, though? If you take a drastic decision of that type, you must have a plan and consider that the same risk will apply in 2-3 years when someone flies in from a country with low vaccination rate. And how low? Projections on reduction in incidence and prevalence might err by a margin of years
    -the comparison with WWII US soldiers dying would hold statistical and scientific sense if you adjusted the comparison for age, which would reduce the current US Covid death rate by 100-1000 fold when calculated for people of military service age
    -lastly, I found your response to @Ben Hughes not appreciative of his very insightful, unbiased and broad-based comment. Do you stay inside your home 100% of the time? maybe you don’t need to, because you live in a country with sealed borders, but we don’t have that luck, yet we can’t sit inside the house for another 1-2 years either

  67. @ Ben Hughes

    You can dither around in a dorkfest debate fussing over presumption as much a you like, but what is utterly undeniable is that those countries who have applied the known methods of lockdowns, restrictions of travel, mask wearing, etc., have been utterly effective at controlling the virus.

    Domestic air travel took a hit in Australia due to travel restrictions, and then it started the climb back, once the virus was under better control and those restrictions could be progressively lifted. Testing for incoming international arrivals is now mandated, but not currently needed for domestic flights.

    We’re not talking “public discourse” here, but actual action.

    Incidentally, in a responsible response to COVID, you wouldn’t be hooning about the country in your vehicle anyway, so your concern about car accidents is farcical.

    Sitting in a country where there was collective leadership and a sense of community that has proved the virus can be beaten, most of the comments herein come across as pitiable, ignorant, selfish, and pigheadedly stupid.

    If the USA had taken stronger action a year ago, you wouldn’t be in such a calamitous state now. You all have to wear the cost of a completely irresponsible failure in leadership.

    Herein mostly feeble excuses from so many folk who just refuse to take responsibility and accept the reality of a massive pile of 400,000 corpses. Just what is it going to take for the light to go on?

    All respect to those in your community who have to service health care and risk their own health and lives in the face of such denialism.

    Now it’s very simple – don’t travel, stay at home, restrict your social network to a very small bubble, wear your mask, get tested, don’t spread the virus.

  68. @Filo
    “Australia and NZ are not Europe, nor America: in this they are privileged by being at the geographic end of the world, and for the purpose of immediate caseload reduction, closing borders made more sense at your place”

    Utter nonsense. Australia and NZ have simply controlled their borders. Are you claiming that the USA doesn’t have the power and capability to control its borders to internationals arrivals? Are you aware that other countries have also performed well in handling the virus?

    The idea that it is only worth controlling ingress of virus at the front end is also braindead. You’ll only keep reseeding the pandemic into you country and thereby undermine any actual efforts to control the virus.

    No, we are not privileged because of geography, rather fortunate that our state and federal government took the strong and decisive action at the start. Yes there’s a big cost, but it would have been far greater if leaders had dithered. Now we mostly get on with our lives with hardly any community transmission in the whole country.

    The UK government has finally worked out they need an effective quarantine system to control ingress of virus despite their case load.

    “when and to whom is Australia going to ever reopen, though? If you take a drastic decision of that type, you must have a plan and consider that the same risk will apply in 2-3 years when someone flies in from a country with low vaccination rate. And how low? Projections on reduction in incidence and prevalence might err by a margin of years”

    When other countries have also benefited from responsible leadership and controlled the virus to the extent that travel bubbles can be safely managed. In the meantime, you’ll have to get tested to get on a plane to come here. Perhaps in due course be vaccinated as well. So what. Australia can only control its own country’s response.

    -the comparison with WWII US soldiers dying would hold statistical and scientific sense if you adjusted the comparison for age, which would reduce the current US Covid death rate by 100-1000 fold when calculated for people of military service age

    Well, it’s reassuring to know that the lives that the USA has lost to COVID are of lessor value in your eyes than the younger folk hat lost theirs in WWII. Do you have any idea how disrespectful your comment reads? So older folk are less worthy of your respect? Incidentally, The Prime Minister of Australia categorically rules out any notion that older members of the community could;d be sacrificed for some misplaced notion of common good.

    -lastly, I found your response to @Ben Hughes not appreciative of his very insightful, unbiased and broad-based comment. Do you stay inside your home 100% of the time? maybe you don’t need to, because you live in a country with sealed borders, but we don’t have that luck, yet we can’t sit inside the house for another 1-2 years either”

    Personally, I can’t see anything of particular insight in his comments. The boat has sailed on public discourse. Some countries have shown what can be done. It’s up to the USA to learn from others or continue a course of arrogant denialism. Many arguments against taking responsibility are easily dispelled by reference to the experience of other countries.

    No, we don’t sit at home for 100% of the time, we don’t have to, because the hard work has already been done. We did have restrictions for about three months. And more so in some areas for the second wave (Melbourne and parts of rural Victoria). Now we reap the benefits of the hard decisions.

    None of this is challenging to comprehend. There are certain actions you need to take if you want to control the virus. We know what they are. You enact those actions or you don’t. If you do, you have to face some months of reality check and are a temporary economic hit, if you don’t you can go on your merry way and pay a higher economic cost down the track and count the human cost at the current rate of 4000 per day – lives that you apparently don’t factor in your analysis.

    People here in Australia are shaking their head in utter disbelief.

  69. This would absolutely be an economic barrier Lucky. Even the rapid tests are not cheap. And adding that to the cost of a ticket will make even someone who can afford it think twice about a domestic trip.

  70. @ Platy

    Not sure i will be congratulating the Federal and state governments for doing a great job in containing the virus. Apart from the NSW government, the rest have been too busy playing politics and indulging in parochialism re disgraceful state border closures, lack of support for the travel industry and international students etc.

    (And the QLD premier still has the nerve to ask for Jobkeeper assistance for the QLD travel industry , after she indulged in silly state border restrictions)

    Melbourne and Victoria were severely shut down for over 3 months because of Dictator Dan’s incompetent handling of the virus. (And Dictator Dan is still shockingly bad re sudden border closures with NSW and wasting police resources in manning useless border checkpoints)

    And yes, the Federal government still does not have a plan in when to re open the international borders, and whether they will be using rapid testings etc. They are still clueless ! (The latest travel bubble suspension with NZ is a farce)

    Australia is just lucky to have low cases, due to it’s geographic isolation and relatively small population.

  71. PS : The Australian government’s decision to ban it’s own citizens from travelling overseas is a disgraceful decision too !

  72. @Peter

    So the answer is ZERO other countries require a covid test to fly domestically.

    While you’ve been hiding in fear, we’ve flown to Dubai and the Maldives, Belize and Honduras. Gonna be flying to Egypt soon. Got covid tests each time per the rules.

    No problem getting them to fly internationally. Even if getting them to come back has become a major hassle.

    It’s the flying around the US REQUIREMENT that seems dumb, ineffective and unnecessarily costly.

    Oh and I’ll be 69 in a month. Get busy living or get busy dying. Not hiding in fear.

  73. @platy, thank you for your sensible comments.

    @ Patti, Australia and the US are clearly culturally different – civil discourse is still valued here. I hope you stay well and in the future can offer a cogent argument in support of your views rather just spewing loaded sarcasm on to a page.

  74. Many problems on all sides of this. If we could ALL have access to rapid testing, like 10$ or $5 per test, well, ok. There are so many reasons why one needs to travel (on planes) and it doesn’t help to be judged/be a judge. We need to help STOP the SPREAD of Covid 19, that is a fact. Consider this for a moment. I needed to fly overseas to Switzerland. (I have no issue at all with quarantining myself etc, which I did) On the plane as in country, both ways, masks were not required for kids 12 and under. And there were a lot of kids on the the flights including a family with 7 children, 5 of them maskless. The kids were running around, hands in their mouths picking out the candy they had eaten, then using those fingers on the seat-back touchscreens, the arms of the chairs, the bathroom doors and so forth. For 9 hours…..while I and anyone else who cared buried ourselves deeper into our masks and scarves etc. While in country, like here, people are hostile about mask-wearing and it is not enforced. Just like here. Etc. On the one hand, it is travel from anywhere to anywhere via any method including car and bike which can spread this virus. But ultimately, it is EACH INDIVIDUAL which spreads the virus. Nothing more, nothing less. We need extremely strict rules about mask wearing & physical distancing EVERYWHERE etc. with very heavy fines enforced for breaking the rules every single time. This would help a lot, I think.

  75. @ Patti

    Nobody here is hiding in fear, thanks all the same for your misplaced stupidity.

    It’s called taking responsibility. It’s about respecting the health and welfare of others in your local, national, and international communities, people who you can potentially infect with your blatantly selfish unfettered wunderlust.

    Unfortunately, rules are necessary because some folk resolutely refuse to behave like decent human beings at a time of evident world crisis.

    You don’t want to be bothered to respect other people, so come up with all sorts of excuses to deny reality. Absent the intelligence to summon a cogent excuse, you default to a shallow and childish comment about people hiding in fear.

    Your attitude and behaviour are appalling. To have any concern whatsoever that you could spread the virus and kill other people? Or do you just not give a kcuf?

  76. @ Marcus

    I’ve heard all of the right wing brain washing narrative before, mate. It’s very boring stuff, so save me the stupidity. Strange that the Liberal premiers in TAS and SA escape your attention, despite pursuing similar policies to those of Labor in QLD.

    Then there’s the inconvenient issue of the QLD election win. Clearly the people backed the sensible choice. Not feckless Deb who’d have opened the borders.

    I live in Cairns – even here, with a reliance on tourism, people still voted with a swing away from the loopy Liberals and numbskull Nationals.

    And the fact that VIC premier has enjoyed stunning popularity.

    Of course NSW is a special case. The Ruby Princess debacle led to the death from COVID of the brother of a friend of mine.

    NSW Premier has lost the plot. It’s only a matter of time before her corruption will scupper her. Shredded documents. Doing the business with a corrupt colleague. No wonder the federal Liberal and National parties don’t want an effective independent corruption body.

  77. I can’t even get a test in my area that gets results back in 72 hours.

    If something like this is going to be instituted, then I think it’d have to be the rapid antigen tests (15 minutes), it’d have to be affordable ($25 or less), and it’d have to be available at all airports.

    Testing requirement waived with proof of vaccine.

    THAT would be doable. Anything else….you’re looking at the annihilation of travel industries.

  78. I do not agree with this policy. It will be damaging to the travel industry. I believe they need to first figure out how to roll out rapid antigen tests < 5 minutes, and then find ways to make it inexpensive and easy to distribute. Without having quick antigen testing, and easy rollout and distribution of tests, instituting and enforcing mandatory traditional 72hr PCR tests is impractical and can be damaging to the travel industry.

  79. Look beyond the impact on airlines and think about the economic impact on the medical providers; payers & insurance companies; and the labs that run the tests.

    While tests should be readily available, and ideally point of care; the reality is that most people call or message their doctors office for help. My group is overrun with every patient traveling to Hawaii, or internationally, and wanting us to manage their testing for their vacation! Seriously, why would people think that I know the testing requirements to visit Thailand; and why should I be responsible for arranging this? So, we end up spending significant time providing guidance in something that has nothing to do with actual healthcare. This alone is keeping the sick from getting care. On top of that, the patient expects their insurance, or anyone for that matter, to cover the cost associated with personal travel, which the person shouldn’t probably be undertaking in the first place.

    To be clear, testing is a good thing! Telling all 331 million people to “contact your health care provider to obtain testing,” or even implying to do so, is a fucking disaster! It already is a disaster with just Hawaii and international travel…now let’s add ALL travel. This could be the thing that breaks the system.

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