TORONTO — Airline industry and business groups in the U.S. are asking the Biden administration to develop temporary credentials that would let travellers show they have been tested and vaccinated for COVID-19.
Digital passes including the IATA Travel Pass, and CommonPass, are already well underway, with the IATA Travel Pass reportedly ready to roll out with its first partner, Singapore Airlines, next week.
Vaccination passports are gaining momentum too and are already in the works in countries including Denmark, Sweden and Iceland. Last week the EC said it will present plans for an EU-wide digital passport this month, with an eye to potentially opening up more travel for Europeans in the summer months.
While earlier this year Prime Minister Justin Trudeau indicated he was opposed to the concept, Trudeau’s Feb. 26 briefing seemed to leave the door open for vaccination passports, as reported on travelweek.ca.
Meanwhile CTV reported on Sunday that Canada’s Health Minister Patty Hajdu says discussion about vaccination passports is “very live” among G7 countries: “We’re certainly working on the idea of vaccine passports with our G7 partners. I was on a call with my G7 health minister counterparts just a couple of weeks ago, and that is a very live issue,” Hajdu said in a March 7 interview with CTV’s Question Period.
While there are potential pitfalls for vaccination passports, several travel agents Travelweek spoke to last month were largely in favour of anything, including vaccination passports, that can help jumpstart travel after almost a year of pandemic restrictions.
With the proliferation of digital passports in the works, there’s concern that without coordination the result will be a mish-mash. “It is crucial to establish uniform guidance” and “the U.S. must be a leader in this development,” more than two dozen groups said in a letter Monday to White House coronavirus-response co-ordinator Jeff Zients.
However, the groups said that vaccination should not be a requirement for domestic or international travel.
The groups include the main U.S. and international airline trade organizations, airline labour unions and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. There’s been no immediate comment from the White House.
The CDC issued new guidelines Monday for fully vaccinated people, saying they can – without face masks – meet other vaccinated people and visit unvaccinated people in a single household who are at low risk for severe disease. However, the health agency still recommends against travel.
“Every time that there is a surge in travel, we have a surge in cases in this country,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. She noted that many variants of COVID-19 now spreading in the U.S. started in other countries.
Still, she held out the possibility that with more data CDC might soon approve of travel by vaccinated people.
With about 2 million vaccination doses now administered per day in the U.S., the trend for ‘Vaxications’ is starting to pick up, according to wire service Bloomberg.
With file from The Associated Press