The Biden administration is reportedly considering whether to impose domestic travel restrictions, including on Florida, fearful that coronavirus mutations are threatening to reverse hard-fought progress on the pandemic.
Outbreaks of the new variants — including a highly contagious one first identified in the United Kingdom, as well as others from South Africa and Brazil that scientists worry can evade existing vaccines — have lent urgency to a review of potential travel restrictions within the United States, one federal official said.
Discussions in the administration over potential travel restrictions do not target a specific state but focus on how to prevent the spread of variants that appear to be surging in a number of states, including Florida and California.
“There are active conversations about what could help mitigate spread here, but we have to follow the data and what’s going to work. We did this with South Africa, we did this with Brazil, because we got clear guidance,” one White House official said.
“But we’re having conversations about anything that would help mitigate spread,” the official said, referring to discussions about new travel restrictions that could target the spread of the U.K. mutation in Florida.
Two federal government officials underscored that no policy announcements are imminent, and that any move to restrict travel or impose new health measures would be taken in partnership with state and local governments.
“No decisions have been made, but we certainly are having conversations across government,” the White House official said, pointing to current guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encouraging Americans to stay home and only travel for essential reasons.
“This is a war and we’re at battle with the virus. War is messy and unpredictable, and all options are on the table,” the official said.
Executives and other representatives from a devastated travel industry are in talks with officials at the CDC on potential new actions, expressing particular concern over a potential testing requirement on domestic flights.
“This is nothing short of political payback and tyranny towards a state with exceptional leadership and a common-sense, scientific approach to COVID-19,” Republican Rep. Andy Biggs tweeted Wednesday in response to news the Biden administration is considering restricting travel from Florida to stop the spread of new coronavirus mutations.
“The Biden administration must stop these considerations,” Biggs added in the post.
“Trump got a massive blowback for having travel restrictions against countries the Obama Administration considered a terrorist threat,” political commentator Ryan Girdusky tweeted. “Biden wants to open our borders to the world but close the borders of Florida.”
“Is the Biden admin going to be tougher on the Florida border than our southern border?” the Daily Caller’s Twitter account posted in retaliation to the news.