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Blunt, Wicker, and others call for end to federal COVID travel restrictions, mask mandates

WASHINGTON – Today, Missouri U.S. Senator Roy Blunt  a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, joined U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (Miss.), the ranking member of the committee, and 29 other senators in a letter to President Biden urging the administration to lift travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The senators called for an end to pre-departure testing requirements for travel to the U.S. and to the federal mask mandate for travel.

“Countries around the world have been ending pre-departure testing requirements for international travel, yet these are still in place for travel to the United States,” the senators wrote. “These requirements discourage travel and hinder the full economic recovery that would result from face-to-face meetings linked to the travel and tourism industries. With COVID-19 levels declining around the world and vaccines and treatments readily available, pre-departure testing requirements are no longer necessary.”

Earlier today, the Biden administration announced it would extend the current mandate for masks until April 18. The mandate was previously expected to expire on March 18.

The senators continued, “[W]e believe it is time for the Administration to give serious consideration to letting the mandate expire in order to return travel to normal. Air travel in particular has proven safe without mask wearing, given the HEPA filters and constant recirculation of air in airplane cabins. Additionally, more than 75 percent of reports of unruly passengers have been linked to mask mandate compliance. Ending this unnecessary mandate would lead to a safer and more pleasant travel experience for passengers and air crew alike.”

In addition to Blunt and Wicker, the letter was signed by U.S. Senators Jim Risch (Idaho), Richard Burr (N.C.), Kevin Cramer (N.D.), John Cornyn (Texas), Mike Crapo (Idaho), Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), Thom Tillis (N.C.), John Barrasso (Wyo.), Steve Daines (Mont.), Dan Sullivan (Alaska), Joni Ernst (Iowa), Cindy Hyde-Smith (Miss.), Mike Braun (Ind.), Mike Lee (Utah), Rick Scott (Fla.), John Thune (S.D.), James Lankford (Okla.), John Boozman (Ark.), Marco Rubio (Fla.), Jim Inhofe (Okla.), Bill Cassidy (La.), Ron Johnson (Wis.), Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.), Todd Young (Ind.), John Hoeven (N.D.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Roger Marshall (Kan.), Susan Collins (Maine), and Shelley Moore Capito (W.V.).

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