American travel got a huge shot in the arm—pun intended—last week when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced its new guidelines. In short, fully vaccinated individuals can travel within the U.S. and do not need COVID testing or post-travel self-quarantine as long as they continue to take those precautions while traveling, including wearing a mask, avoiding crowds, socially distancing, and washing hands frequently. Additionally, fully vaccinated people can travel internationally without getting a COVID test before travel (unless required by the destination) and without self-quarantining upon return.
The updated guidance coincided with a robust travel weekend just ahead of Easter, in which airlines saw about 90 percent of pre-COVID levels of passengers.
“Today’s decision by the CDC is an enormous step forward for business travel in the U.S. and around the world,” says Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) CEO Suzanne Neufang. “By all reports, we are seeing an increasing willingness to travel, especially among travelers who already have been vaccinated against COVID-19. We will continue to work with world leaders, business decision-makers, our 9,000 members globally, and stakeholders across the travel sector to safely and efficiently get business travelers back on the road when they’re ready.”
The new guidelines coincided with a strong March job report, which saw more than 916,000 jobs added to the economy. Of that, 280,000 jobs were added in the leisure and hospitality sectors, marking some much-needed relief to a sector of the U.S. economy that was hit the hardest.
“The CDC’s new travel guidance is a major step in the right direction that is supported by the science and will take the brakes off the industry that has been hardest hit by the fallout of COVID by far. As travel comes back, U.S. jobs come back, said U.S. Travel Association President & CEO Roger Dow. “The yearlong halt on travel has devastated U.S. employment, with travel-supported jobs accounting for 65 percent of all U.S. jobs lost last year, and this is an opportunity to begin reclaiming a lot of what’s been lost. Meanwhile, it remains important that all eligible Americans get vaccinated as soon as they can in order to more quickly recover the ability for all to travel freely.”