Fauci says a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for air travel hasn't been 'taken off the table'

Dr. Anthony Fauci stated Sunday that US officials could issue a COVID-19 mandate for commercial flights.
"The team has many things on the table. He said that nothing has been removed from the table on "Meet the Press."

An increase in fines was announced by the Biden administration earlier in the month for passengers refusing to wear masks on flights.

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According to Dr. Anthony Fauci (the long-serving director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases), US officials have not rejected a COVID-19 mandate for air travelers.

Fauci made the remarks during a Sunday appearance on NBC News's "Meet the Press," after Chuck Todd asked him about travel mandates.

"The team has many things to offer." Fauci, President Joe Biden's chief medical advisor, stated that nothing has been removed from the table. "That decision was not made."

He said Sunday that although we haven't yet reached the point where vaccinations are required on domestic flights, everything is on the table. These things are something we consider literally every day. It's still up for discussion.

Fauci's Sunday comments echo his remarks last week. Fauci stated that he supports such proposals in a podcast interview with The Skimm.

Meet the Press (@MeetThePress September 19, 2021

He said, "I would agree that you should get vaccinated if you plan to travel on planes with others."

Although vaccines are not required to fly in the US at this time, commercial airlines have been requiring the use of facial covers since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. In February, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a directive requiring that face masks be worn on public transport and commercial flights.

In September, the Biden administration announced that it would double the penalty for passengers refusing to cover their faces while flying. As Insider reported, the White House COVID-19 Action Plan included this change.

Refusing to adhere to the mask-wearing policy were previously subject to fines of up to $250 and $1,500. Guidelines released earlier in the month increased the minimum penalty to $500 and the maximum to $3000.

Fauci stated Sunday that the president made the decision regarding flying. "If a person doesn't want to wear or refuses to wear a helmet, they double the fining," Fauci said.

Fauci's Sunday comments come as more people fly again, even though new cases are being created by the highly-transmissible Delta variant. This is bringing air travel closer pre-pandemic levels. According to TSA data, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screened more than twice as many passengers Saturday than it did last year.