New US COVID airline policy coming Jan. 5

A just-announced U.S. COVID travel policy will be implemented on 1/5 for travelers from mainland China, Hong Kong and Macao. Travelers will need to present a negative COVID test taken no longer than two days prior to leaving China for the U.S. or documentation of COVID recovery, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Wednesday, 12/28. This is very bad U.S. policy for commonsense reasons. 

Due to its zero-COVID policy including draconian lockdowns, quarantines and testing the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on 12/7 abruptly abandoned its failed policy after growing violent protests leaving the country of 1.4 billion people in far-reaching danger because of a lack of natural immunity among the population, among other shortcomings such as ineffective vaccines as reported by the Singapore Post.  

The CCP apparently had no "Plan B" and it was estimated and reported that some 37 million Chinese were recently COVID-infected in a single day. As of 12/28, China's official COVID death toll stood at 5,246 since the start of the pandemic in 2020. Really?  

The Financial Times cites estimates from China that some 250 million were infected in the first 20 days of December. Almost half of the passengers on two 12/26 flights to Milan tested positive for Covid on a flight from Beijing and one from Shanghai. And Reuters reports on 12/29 that, "around 9,000 people in China are probably dying each day from COVID-19, UK-based health data firm Airfinity said on Thursday, nearly doubling its estimate from a week ago, as infections ripped across the world's most populous nation." 

Not only has China aggressively resisted investigations into the original COVID outbreak, but it is also lying about the number of recent COVID deaths and not sharing critical information on COVID variants circulating in its country. While the world is left in the dark, many researchers around the world are very worried that with a massive explosion in Chinese infections a very lethal variant could emerge catching the world off guard. 

This from the 12/29 The New York Times, "How Bad Is China's COVID Outbreak? It's a Scientific Guessing Game. In the absence of credible information from the Chinese government, researchers around the world are looking for any clues to determine the size and severity of the surge." 

An obvious problem with this policy is that there are warnings from the CCP that fraudulent COVID tests are a serious problem. This is a country that creates fake U.S. driver's licenses that are so perfect that their very perfection draws authorities' scrutiny to them. As such, why should Americans have any confidence that negative COVID tests are legitimate? The risks are overpowering. 

If the 1/5 new U.S. COVID travel policy is not reversed, the following potential impacts could materialize quickly and painfully for stakeholders:  


  • More death 
  • Reinstatement of COVID protocols of masks, social distancing and more 
  • Restrictive school protocols 
  • Employment layoffs 
  • Opportunity for air travel diminished 
  • Increased unsustainable national debt for new COVID relief legislation 
  • Further distrust in government institutions 


  • Consumer spending declines 
  • SME business struggles and failures 
  • Renewed travel restrictions on corporate sales and other teams 
  • Additional momentum on remote working 
  • Renewed worker shortages 


  • Lower demand for U.S. domestic and international travel and resultant airline bankruptcies 

An alternative U.S. COVID travel policy would be to assert American leadership and immediately ban all travel from China except for returning U.S. citizens who would be tested upon arrival in the U.S. and quarantined when necessary. We would use our leadership to encourage other countries into action such that travelers from China connecting to the U.S., at say, London Heathrow would be tested by UK health officials before boarding. 

Finally, and of strategic importance, the ban on travel from China should be permanent until and unless it cooperates in a legitimate, robust and transparent investigation of the origins of COVID and until it commits to a detailed future process of global cooperation on timely and complete disease investigations and reporting. Other trade partners with China would have a national security and economic incentive to join the U.S. 

Mitchell is chairman and founder of the 1994-formed Radnor, PA-based Business Travel Coalition.

Image via Public Domain Pictures.

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