A vaccine mandate for domestic air travel is not currently necessary because ‘strategies’ like masking are ‘highly effective,” Buttigieg says

Mom and daughter COVID precautions airplane travel
  • Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Sunday said that a vaccine mandate for domestic air travel wasn't currently necessary.
  • Current strategies, like masking on planes, work during domestic flights, he argued.
  • The vaccine mandate for international travelers to the US is the result of "different standards" across countries, Buttigieg said.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Sunday said that a vaccine mandate for domestic air travel wasn't currently necessary because current COVID-19 mitigation strategies, like masking, work. 

"When it comes to domestic travel, we found other strategies are highly effective, including masks and those protections," Buttigieg said, noting that COVID-19 vaccination is required for international air travelers to the US.

"Meanwhile, of course, we have employers both inside the travel agency — travel industry and just across the country advancing vaccines, and that is creating a very safe travel environment for Americans," he added during an interview with Chuck Todd during an appearance on "Meet the Press."

While the vaccine is not required for domestic air travel, all federal workers, including agents with the Transpiration Security Administration, will be required beginning Monday to be vaccinated for COVID-19. Buttigieg on Sunday said he did not believe that the mandate would cause delays to travel as the holiday season begins.

Earlier this month, Democratic lawmakers urged President Joe Biden in a letter to require all airline passengers either show proof of full vaccination or show a negative COVID-19 test before boarding a domestic flight, as Insider previously reported.

"This is a necessary and long overdue step toward ensuring all Americans feel safe and confident while traveling and reduce the chances of yet another devastating winter surge," the 30 Democrats wrote in the November 11 letter. 

But Buttigieg pushed back on that notion Sunday, and said: "What we're doing right now is working to make air travel safe." 

International air travel requires the vaccine because "different countries have different standards," he said Sunday. Beginning November 8, non-citizen, non-immigrant air travelers to the US were required to show COVID-19 vaccination proof prior to boarding a flight, according to the White House.

Masks have been required on all transit since February 1 this year, though major airlines began requiring them on flights last year. The requirement has led to numerous contentious incidents between flight crews and unruly passengers who refuse to wear masks during flights. 

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