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Local airports weigh in on proposal to require proof of negative COVID-19 test to fly domestically

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Posted at 12:38 AM, Feb 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-10 03:38:29-05

Having an ID and boarding pass may not be enough next time you want to board a plane — soon you may need a negative COVID-19 test too.

Already to fly into the United States from another country, the CDC has required all passengers have negative tests. Local airports say making this a reality here at home though, could be difficult to implement.

The aviation industry has already had to make some major changes in the last year: like requiring masks on flights and social distancing at the airport.

Now, a new proposal may add a negative COVID-19 test to the mix.

"The safer we can make air travel in terms of perception as well as reality, the more people are going to be ready to get back in the air," U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said.

Local airport managers have mixed reaction to the news.

San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport said:

Should the testing requirement become a mandate, SBP will meet the need to keep both the traveling public and community safe.

The Santa Barbara Airport has some concerns with the plan, telling us in a statement:

Ultimately, the airport will conform to whatever protocols are required to beat the pandemic and make people feel safe when they travel. We do recognize, however, that such a requirement would be difficult to implement.

Travel adviser and owner of Nipomo Travel, Kimberly Sargen, says it may be difficult for people to get the tests while on the go.

"Some places you can get a free Covid test, but it's not universal. How testing is still being handled varies from state to state, county to county, city to city and [it's unclear] whether you'd have to go to a private test or whether you could go to a public entity and get tested," Sargen said.

Sargen argues only testing airline passengers ignores the potential spread from other forms of travel.

"There's so much driving going on still, that the airline part of it is only a slice of the pie. I just don't see how testing for domestic travel is going to change the dynamics of the pandemic," Sargen said.

Boeing has raised concerns about the economic impact of this proposal, but the director of the CDC says more screening at places where people gather like airports could help detect more asymptomatic cases.

We asked travelers at the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport how they feel about this new proposal and received mixed feedback.

"Public safety is very important, however, we just came from a very small town in North Carolina where it's very challenging to find a testing site. I would just hate for people like us who want to visit their family, not be able to do that because they can't find a testing site," traveler Kasha Williamson said.

"I have my reservations just based on which type of test it would be - whether it would be PCR test or the antibody test and what the criteria of the testing would be," traveler Kelly Williamson said.

Federal officials recently told Reuters there is no specific proposal currently being vetted by the administration and a new meeting with airlines could take place late this week.