Bill would require US airline passengers to have COVID-19 vaccine or prove negative test
WASHINGTON - California Sen. Dianne Feinstein has proposed a bill that would require all U.S. domestic airline passengers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, test negative for the virus, or show proof that they have fully recovered from the illness.
Feinstein introduced the U.S. Air Travel Public Safety Act Wednesday that would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services, along with the FAA, to develop standards and procedures to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak regarding air travel.
The proposed bill would also require an advisory committee with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to make recommendations for COVID-19 vaccine use in health care settings and among health care staff in other settings.
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"We know that air travel during the 2020 holiday season contributed to last winter’s devastating COVID-19 surge," Feinstein said in a news release. "We simply cannot allow that to happen again."
"Ensuring that air travelers protect themselves and their destination communities from this disease is critical to prevent the next surge, particularly if we confront new, more virulent variants of COVID-19," she continued.
Some airlines have already mandated that employees receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
United Airlines said it will begin terminating the employment of workers who have declined to get a COVID-19 vaccine in violation of the company’s policy.
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In a memo obtained by FOX TV Stations, the company wrote that more than 99% of its 90,000-plus workforce has gotten vaccinated.
A United Airlines spokesperson confirmed the company has already begun a process to terminate the employment of 593 people who have chosen not to comply with the company’s vaccine requirement policy.
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Frontier Airlines followed suit, announcing a similar policy requiring employees to be vaccinated by Oct. 1 or provide "regular" proof of a negative COVID-19 test.
Airlines continue to grapple with mandated COVID-19 restrictions as travel rebounds from the 2020 global lockdown.
Federal officials extended into January a requirement that people on flights and public transportation wear face masks, a rule intended to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The mask mandate has been controversial and has led to many encounters between passengers who don’t want to wear a mask and flight attendants asked to enforce the rule. The FAA said in August that airlines have reported 3,889 incidents involving unruly passengers this year, and 2,867 — or 74% — involved refusing to wear a mask.
Austin Williams and the Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.