September 20, 2021

KAROL MARKOWICZ: The United States of Fear.

Our leaders have set an impossible goal: containing a virus that was quite possibly created with humans in mind. After 18 months of COVID-19, and despite mass vaccinations, the travel taboo remains in place. The US has some of the strictest entry restrictions – tougher than Iceland, the UK and most EU states. The Biden administration even prohibits visits to the US by family members from the UK and EU.

When the restrictions began to loosen, masks were (briefly) removed and distances between people began to condense. But travel remains a separate category. Masks are still required on planes even though many countries require airlines to check vaccination status as well as evidence of a negative COVID test. Planes are seen as flying chambers of COVID, even though little spread has been linked to air travel. In October 2020, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that the risk of contracting COVID-19 on a plane is ‘lower than from an office building, classroom, supermarket, or commuter train’.

People who travel now are morally suspect. They’re lax, unserious. Their motion stirs up the virus, endangers us all. Last winter my doctor in New York City sent an email to her patients that she would not be seeing anyone who had recently traveled. She didn’t shut out anyone who had been to a bar, a casino or, ahem, a massive protest, but getting on a plane meant you were unclean. We’ve turned so much about COVID into a morality test that a good person wouldn’t take a trip. Those who do travel are skittish about sharing on social media.

Earlier: Ignoring Them Is the Only Way Out. “Public-health authorities don’t know how to stop giving you extra-restrictive advice. And they can’t learn how to stop giving it if we don’t learn how to stop asking for it. Or until we start ignoring what they say, and start punishing politicians who translate their guidance into nuisances.”

Related: Biden Admin Lifting Travel Ban on Fully Vaccinated International Travelers in November.

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