US is taking a ‘close look’ at requiring Americans to use vaccine passports to fly in and out of the country, Biden’s Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas says
- ‘We’re taking a very close look at that,’ Mayorkas told ABC
- He was asked about vaccine passports for people flying in and out of the country
- White House has ruled out any federal vaccine passport
- Mayorkas said any passport must be ‘accessible’ and make sure ‘no one is disenfranchised’
- Some GOP governors have banned vaccine requirements by private businesses
- He spoke as 2.5 million Americans were set to fly Memorial Day weekend
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Friday that the Biden Administration is closely examining vaccine passports as a measure to try to ensure safer travel.
He made the comment at the start of a nation-wide travel spike for the Memorial Day Weekend, after the White House has provided repeated assurances the administration will not impose such a system.
Asked if the nation could see vaccine passports either for people coming into the country or flying out, he told ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’: ‘We’re taking a very close look at that.’
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the administration was taking a ‘very close’ at vaccine passports for people flying in and out of the country
‘You know, one of our principles that has guided us throughout this pandemic is the value of diversity, equity and inclusion and making sure that any passport that we provide for vaccinations is accessible to all and that no one is disenfranchised,’ he responded.
‘And so we’re taking a very close look at that,’ he added.
HIs language about equity and inclusion reflects controversy that the concept of vaccine passports have already sparked, as businesses open up and about half of Americans are vaccinated.
Some Republican governors including Florida’s Ron DeSantis have signed legislation banning private businesses from requiring proof of vaccination to customers. The split comes as about a fifth of Americans tell pollsters they will refused to get the vaccine.
Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted Friday: ‘Vaccines are terrific and the COVID-19 vaccine has given us a lot of freedom. But there’s a real potential for government overreach. I don’t believe the government should force anyone to get the vaccine,’ he wrote in a tweet about a Fox News hit where he warned about discrimination. Federal officials have not issued calls to require vaccination, and states who administer vaccines are rolling out a series of incentive programs including crash prizes, free groceries, tuition, and other perks to try to entice residents to get the shot.
He made his comments on ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’ at the start of a busy holiday travel weekend
‘There’s an underlying point here of course, which is everyone should get vaccinated,’ he said. ‘We’ve got vaccination centers everywhere, no more than a few miles from everyone’s home, and it’s so important to get that vaccine – make one safe, make one’s loved ones and friends safe around you.’
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in April the administration would not support a system that ‘requires Americans to carry a credential.’ She said there would be no federal database or mandate – and has said the government would protect privacy rights if the private sector moves to vaccine requirements.
She said once again last week that the feds would not be establishing a vaccine passport system, when asked in the context of recent CDC guidance on masking.
‘It has not changed our view that the federal government will not be playing that role,” she said. “The private sector may, and it may prompt the private sector moving forward on actions, which is where we think it is appropriately situated.”
With coronavirus cases dropping but still present throughout the country as the vaccination push slows, Mayorkas said a federal mask mandate for travel would remain for months.
‘The mask mandate is a federal mandate in airports and on airplanes, and that’s going to hold true probably until mid-September,’ Mayorkas said.
‘And it’s a very important mandate. You know, we are getting out of the covid-19 pandemic because of a concerted federal effort, and we need to stay strong and really put this behind us,’ he said.
With an estimated 2.5 million Americans expected to fly over the long weekend according to AAA, even with a 7-day average of more than 20,000 new covid-19 cases each day, Mayorkas said he was ‘very excited about the reemergence of travel, the chance for Americans to reunite with family and friends.’