Little more than a week after saying it has no plans to shut down domestic airline travel, the White House is apparently considering an alternative, limited option to that plan as the coronavirus continues to spread.
President Trump said Wednesday during his daily press briefing that he is reluctant to shut down the airlines and issue a national stay-at-home order, but did acknowledge that asking carriers to cut back on flights between cities hardest hit by the coronavirus is an option.
“You have them going, in some cases, from hot spot to hot spot,” Trump said about airlines, but quickly added that “Once you do that you are clamping down on an industry that is desperately needed.”
Already, some have questioned why the airlines won’t stop flights between so-called ‘hot cities,’ particularly those that have been overwhelmed by the growing number of positive COVID-19 cases in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
But USA Today noted that even health experts say that the airlines are an essential service for both people and cargo. And, in Trump’s $2 trillion stimulus package signed last week that provides some $58 billion for the airline industry, one of the provisos was that airlines must maintain a minimum level of service until at least September.
However, some officials have implemented their own airline-related conditions. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered anyone flying to Florida from New York, New Jersey or Connecticut to self-isolate for 14 days. Alaska and Hawaii are also requiring anyone arriving from other states to self-quarantine.
The airlines themselves have already reduced their schedules as the number of people flying has dramatically reduced – up to 90 percent on some days compared to the same date last year.
Trump also said on Fox News that he would not close airports, because “when you close them and reopen them, it’s a tremendous deal. It’s a tremendous deal. In addition, you need them for emergencies, you have emergency flights.”
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