Biden says if medical team advises it, he’ll issue domestic travel vaccine requirement

( For now, America doesn’t have a policy that requires a person to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 for domestic travel. But, that could change at any moment.

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden said he would impose that mandate for domestic travel if members of his medical team end up recommending that he do so. Right now, there is only a vaccine mandate for international travel.

While walking in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, Biden was asked about when he might make a decision on the matter. His response was “when I get a recommendation from the medical team.”

Thus far, the White House has avoided implementing a vaccine mandate for domestic travel. However, the emergence of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus could convince the Biden administration to make a move sooner rather than later.

Just last month, Biden said he’d wait for scientists to recommend to him whether requiring COVID-19 vaccines or negative tests for domestic flights would be a good idea. Many have worried that the time for that could come soon, as the U.S. has recently set the single-day record for new coronavirus cases with the Omicron variant combining with family get-togethers for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

It seems that time might be a little further down the line, though. As Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to the president, said on Monday:

“Everything that comes up as a possibility, we put it on the table and we consider it. That does not mean that it is likely to happen. I doubt if we’re going to see something like that in the reasonably foreseeable future.”

Fauci made those remarks as part of an interview on CNN with Jim Acosta, who asked him whether there was some conflict within the Biden administration over whether to impose a vaccine mandate for domestic travel. Fauci responded by saying:

“It’s not a question of being in favor of it or not. I’m in favor of what we can do to keep the country safe.”

In late November, Jen Psaki, the press secretary for the White House, said the president wasn’t taking any options for vaccine mandates off the table just yet. She added that he would instead rely on medical and health experts whenever a topic involved something as serious as vaccine requirements.

In recent months, many Democrats have been pushing Biden to institute a mandate that would require all domestic airline passengers to provide proof that they were fully vaccinated against COVID-19. In lieu of that, they want passengers to have to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test that was taken recently.

On the other side of the argument is the business community at large. Airlines have said it would be a huge logistical issue in trying to verify every domestic airline passenger’s information.

They also worry that any additional requirements or restrictions on domestic air travel could further hurt an industry that has been decimated during the pandemic.