Largely because Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis stuck to “the science” and understood the particular ravages of COVID-19, Florida has outperformed most states in dealing with the disease, especially blue ones, by protecting those most vulnerable and keeping the economy afloat.
But Florida’s most lucrative industry – tourism – took a hit because of the pandemic.
Visit Florida, the state’s official tourism agency, announced recently that 86.7 million visitors came to Florida last year.
That was down one-third from 2019, and the lowest figure since 2010.
The man responsible for helping grow the tourism industry over the past decade believes he has a way to revive it.
GOP U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, who was Florida’s governor from 2011 to 2019, has introduced a bill, the Fly Safe and Healthy Act, to require temperature screenings at airports.
Scott said he believes restoring Americans’ faith in interstate travel will help boost tourism.
“Florida is a huge tourism state, and thousands of families rely on the success of the industry. To get our economy back on track and fully re-opened, Americans need to trust that they can travel safely,” Scott said in a statement.
“The Fly Safe and Healthy Act will enable a temperature check pilot program to ensure passengers with a fever don’t board a plane and put other passengers and airline employees at risk.”
“It also requires airlines to work with a customer to reschedule or cancel their flight if they’re experiencing a fever, and establishes consumer protections to guard against unfair pricing tactics,” Scott added.
Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington has co-sponsored the bill.
“Implementing this technology is low-hanging fruit we should be taking advantage of to provide more health and safety measures for the flying public,” she said in a statement.
“A number of other countries have already begun taking this common-sense step and it’s time the United States joined them.”
Under the bill, the Transportation Security Administration would launch a 120-day pilot program to conduct temperature checks for both domestic and international passengers.
Also checked would be people accompanying those passengers, crew members, and others who pass through airports and airport security screening locations.
Airlines that block passengers from flying because of a fever or a secondary medical screening would have to reschedule or cancel the flight at no cost.
Those who may have an elevated body temperature unrelated to COVID-19 would be excused.
Within three months after the test period ends, the TSA and other agencies responsible for travel would create policies for deploying a temperature-check program at airports and airport security screening locations for as long as the pandemic lasts.
“I’ve been calling for temperature checks for passengers of mass travel since the beginning of the pandemic as a common-sense measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and I urge my colleagues to pass this bipartisan bill immediately,” Scott said.
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