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Opinion | Rethinking U.S. Rules on International Travel

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To the Editor:

Re “Early Reports Signal Variant Is Less Severe” (front page, Dec. 7):

Well, now even more restrictions are being placed on international air travel into the United States, with testing no earlier than the day before departure being the latest requirement. What’s next — testing within 10 minutes of boarding?

Why isn’t proof of full vaccination with a booster, wearing a mask at all times and perhaps throwing in a temperature check at the airport good enough for a U.S. citizen to return home? The ultimate irony here is that domestic flights do not require vaccination, testing or a temperature check. So when a fully vaccinated person boards a domestic flight, he or she can be exposed to who knows how many anti-vaxxers.

Can’t the government see that by piling on international flight requirements it is doing two things: 1) killing international travel, and 2) downplaying the importance of being vaccinated, the very message it doesn’t want to send? Instead, the government should make a simple requirement for all air travel: In addition to wearing a mask, you must be fully vaccinated or have a legitimate medical reason not to be.

The pandemic will be with us until the government finds the guts to seriously reduce the pool of unvaccinated persons. This is Immunology 101. Vaccination mandates are the best tool we have for putting the brakes on the pandemic and should be extended to include all air travelers.

Michael Madigan
Murphysboro, Ill.
The writer is professor emeritus of microbiology at Southern Illinois University.

To the Editor:

While restricting entry into the United States from countries in southern Africa has been met with criticism both here and abroad, what is more important to consider is whether the U.S. policy as to the rest of the world to require only full vaccination and before-boarding negative tests will ever be as effective as China’s requirement that visitors not only be fully vaccinated and test negative, but then must quarantine for at least 14 days in a monitored hotel (at their own expense).

That China has had a little over 100,000 cases and fewer than 5,000 deaths — compared with nearly 50 million cases and 800,000 deaths in the United States — suggests that its strict policy is vastly superior to America’s.

Peter Flemming
West Caldwell, N.J.

Outdoor Dining, or Indoor?

To the Editor:

Re “Last Winter, Diners Froze. This Year, They Choose” (news article, Dec. 3):

I find a great misunderstanding of the concept of outdoor dining. Some of the photos accompanying this article show structures so enclosed as to be essentially indoors. In fact, New York City rules for restaurants would not classify many such structures as outdoors and would subject these places to indoor dining rules.

Sadly, a lack of enforcement, understanding and reporting has people eating in places where they think they are safe but very well may not be. I expect that in some cases, with vaccine card checks and professional ventilation, the indoor spaces of some restaurants may be safer than their additional outdoor structures.

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