I’ve been warning travelers for weeks now that come November 22, three days before Thanksgiving, travel could become a nightmare because the first federal vaccine mandate was set to kick in. With American and Southwest airlines’ pilots threatening to walk out because of the government mandate and the TSA only having only 60% (as of October 13) of their officers vaccinated, this scenario had the makings of complete chaos during the busiest travel season of the year.
Well, I finally have some great news for travelers to report. Yesterday, the Biden administration gave businesses and travelers reason to breathe a huge sigh of relief when he extended the deadline until after the holidays. January 4, 2022 is now the new deadline for companies of over 100 employees and government contractors (most of the airlines are, since they carry U.S. mail) to ensure their workers are fully vaccinated or regularly tested for Covid-19.
In addition, according to CNBC: “The White House on Monday issued guidelines for federal contractors that gives those employers broad latitude in meeting the rules. However, Biden administration officials have said contractors don’t face a hard deadline, but they must show they’re making a good-faith effort to get staff vaccinated and have plans for masking and social distancing in workplaces.”
This is huge news for travelers since the coming months are going to be extremely busy in airports and in the skies. Early January is typically one of the slowest travel periods of the year (sometimes referred to as ‘dead week’, as well as the week after Thanksgiving) so the extension gives airline and airport executives, as well as holiday travelers, a reason to breathe easier.