CONTRIBUTED TO THE OBSERVER
Dear Mr. President,
We request you lift the COVID-19 vaccine mandate on international travel to the United States and allow our country to return to normal. The lifting of mask mandates and testing requirements for air travel were steps in the right direction. Now, you should end the requirement that all non-U.S. citizen travelers entering the United States be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
In October 2021, the White House announced a new vaccine mandate for air travelers, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) quickly extended the mandate to travelers entering the United States via land ports of entry and ferry terminals. In April 2022, DHS doubled down and extended the requirement indefinitely even as other countries reassessed their COVID-19 travel protocols. Over the last several months, countries around the world dropped mandatory vaccine requirements for visitors from Australia to Israel to almost every country in Europe. In total, as of July 2022, 72 countries dropped all COVID-19 testing and vaccination requirements for travelers.
In comparison, all travelers to the United States over the age of 18 are still required to show proof of vaccination before entering the country or even boarding a plane. Air travelers are also required to provide contact information to airlines before boarding flights to the United States for contact tracing. The continued requirements, even as other countries are moving in the opposite direction, put us at a competitive disadvantage as our states work to welcome international travelers, attract foreign business prospects and host global athletic competitions. Your actions are hurting our states’ economies and unnecessarily hampering our economic growth as a nation.
In addition, maintaining a vaccine mandate for legal travelers is particularly contradictory given your recent push to revoke the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Title 42 Order, which allows DHS to expel migrants from the country for public health reasons. Why are you insisting on stringent vaccine requirements for legal temporary travelers but not for illegal immigrants who are attempting to stay in our country permanently?
Republican governors consistently stood against the immense, unconstitutional overstepping of power that occurred in our country during the pandemic in the name of public health. As COVID-19 vaccination rates remain high and hospitalization levels remain manageable, continuing your international travel vaccine mandate becomes indefensible.
The rest of the world is moving on from the COVID-19 pandemic and returning to normal. It is time for your administration to do the same.
Governor Kristi Noem State of South Dakota
Governor Asa Hutchinson State of Arkansas
Governor Kim Reynolds State of Iowa
Governor Greg Gianforte State of Montana
Governor Kevin Stitt State of Oklahoma
Governor Glenn Youngkin Commonwealth of Virginia
Governor Kay Ivey State of Alabama
Governor Brian Kemp State of Georgia
Governor Tate Reeves State of Mississippi
Governor Chris Sununu State of New Hampshire
Governor Henry McMaster State of South Carolina
Governor Mark Gordon State of Wyoming
Governor Mike Dunleavy State of Alaska
Governor Brad Little State of Idaho
Governor Mike Parson State of Missouri
Governor Doug Burgum State of North Dakota
Governor Bill Lee State of Tennessee