The White House is engaging in an internal debate about a potential vaccination passport mandate for domestic air travel after Dr. Anthony Fauci has come out in support of it.
“We haven’t taken options off the table, but I don’t have any updates to share with you at this point,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during Thursday’s daily press briefing. “Our focus is on implementation of the big steps we announced last week.
“Right now, our focus is on implementing those. Part of that was also doubling fines for people who were not wearing masks on planes – a step that we feel would help keep people safe on flights and reduce the spread.”
Psaki was asked about Fauci coming out in support of air travel vaccine passports in the U.S.
“I would support that if you want to get on a plane and travel with other people that you should be vaccinated,” Fauci told theSkimm podcast, according to The Hill.
White House chief of staff Ron Klain did acknowledge the possibility is being considered.
“It’s something we continue to look at, we want to kind of weigh the number of people that these requirements could vaccinate versus the burden on the vaccinated, having to show proof every time you go on to an airplane, having to wait on longer lines at TSA,” Klain told the Pod Save America podcast.
“But I think it’s something we’ll look at as we continue to progress.”
The issue the White House has with the air travel vaccine passports is not the violating of American’s privacy and personal rights, but the mere burden it would put on the federal employees to enforce it, according to the report.
“We think the most efficient vaccine requirements are ones that where people are kind of in a permanent situation, on the job, in the military, where they verify once and then they’re verified in that scenario,” Klain added to the podcast.
White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters last week, both vaccine mandates or testing is under consideration.
“We’re not taking any measures off the table,” he said.
U.S. Travel Association President Roger Dow said a domestic air travel vaccination mandate would be “extraordinarily difficult” to implement, but he was “comfortable” with one to reinvigorate international air travel.
“[The] challenge is you’ve got upwards of 65% of the population vaccinated and you have 35 to 40% that for some reason may not be able to be vaccinated, but yet they’re willing to do a COVID test and to show that when they walk in the door, that they are COVID-free,” he told reporters Wednesday, according to The Hill.
While domestic air travel is down, Delta Airlines CEO Ed Bastian was concerned about implementing a vaccination mandate would “actually bottleneck the domestic travel system.”
Airlines for America is concerned about the talk of domestic vaccine passports.
“We have been informed that there is no imminent policy proposal regarding domestic travel, and echo concerns expressed by government about the implementation and enforcement of such a policy,” the group wrote in a statement to The Hill. “We remain in communication with the administration and continue to lean into science to guide policies that prioritize the safety and wellbeing of the traveling public.”