No Vaccine Mandates Yet for Domestic Air Travel, But Temperature Checks May Be Coming

By Susan Jones | October 26, 2021 | 8:36am EDT
An airport employee checks the temperature of passengers before they are allowed to board their flight at Washington-Dulles International Airport on November 10, 2020, amid the Coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images)
An airport employee checks the temperature of passengers before they are allowed to board their flight at Washington-Dulles International Airport on November 10, 2020, amid the Coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) - Starting November 8, most people arriving in the United States from foreign countries will have to show proof of COVID vaccination and/or negative COVID test results.

Vaccine and testing mandates do not yet apply to domestic air travel. But a bill pending in the Senate -- the Fly Safe and Healthy Act of 2021, introduced by Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) -- would require temperature checks at the airport as part of a pilot program.

(Note: Some airports have already tried this.)

According to the Congressional Budget Office:

S. 316 would require the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to establish a 180-day pilot program to conduct temperature checks for passengers, crew members, and other people who pass through security checkpoints at airports. Anyone with a fever would be subject to secondary medical screening for COVID-19.

Passengers with a fever who do not pass the secondary screening would be prohibited from flying but would be allowed to reschedule or to receive a voucher or a refund. Employees with a fever who do not pass the secondary screening would be prohibited from entering airport areas beyond the checkpoint and would be covered by their employer’s current leave policies.

Finally, the bill would require TSA to alert passengers to the program and to report to the Congress on the program’s implementation.

CBO assumes that the bill will be enacted by the end of calendar year 2021.

CBO also "assumes" that the pilot program would require temperature checks at one large, one medium, and one small airport. And if that is so, CBS "estimates that it would cost $18 million to implement S. 316; such spending would be subject to the availability of appropriated funds.

“Of that amount, about $12 million would be for personnel, with the remainder for equipment (such as thermal cameras), site setup, administration, and reporting. Because the pilot program would only run for 180 days, CBO expects that most of the outlays would occur in 2022."

According to a summary of the bill:

"In developing the pilot program, the TSA must address certain policies and procedures, including (1) accommodating individuals with disabilities or observing certain religious practices, and (2) exempting individuals who may have a fever unrelated to COVID-19."

And within 90 days after the pilot program ends, “TSA must create a policy for deploying a temperature check program at airports and airport security screening locations through the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency.”

A separate bill introduced in late September by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) would require all passengers on domestic airline flights to either be fully vaccinated, have recently tested negative for COVID-19 or have fully recovered from COVID-19.

"We know that air travel during the 2020 holiday season contributed to last winter’s devastating COVID-19 surge. We simply cannot allow that to happen again," said Feinstein, who commutes to Washington from California.

"It only makes sense that we also ensure the millions of airline passengers that crisscross our country aren’t contributing to further transmission, especially as young children remain ineligible to be vaccinated."


Also See:
US Opening Up to Fully Vaccinated Foreign Visitors, But Millions Won’t Be Eligible

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