With the COVID-19 pandemic further stifling the efforts of states to issue Real ID driver’s licenses, President Donald Trump on Monday said he would extend the Oct. 1 deadline for people to have the identification cards to board domestic flights in the United States.
Trump made the announcement during a news briefing on the nation’s response to the virus, as the number of confirmed cases across the U.S. now stands at more than 33,000. The resulting public health anxiety has left many people unwilling to visit Department of Motor Vehicles offices for fear of being infected.
“I’m also announcing that we’re postponing the deadline with Real ID requirements,” Trump said after making other comments during the White House event. “We will be announcing the new deadline very soon.”
A July 16, 2018 courtesy photo shows the Real ID variation of the newly designed driver’s licenses and ID cards Minnesotans will see in the coming weeks as the state transitions from the current cards that were first issued in 2004. The new Minnesota driver’s licenses will include more information and have features to make them more difficult to copy. (Courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety)
The president, who offered no additional details, seemed to acknowledge the challenge with asking people to visit their local DMV “at a time that we’re asking Americans to maintain social distancing.”
Trump has been under pressure to postpone the Oct. 1 deadline from state officials across the country. The National Governors Association recently asked the Department of Homeland Security to extend the Oct. 1 deadline by at least one year.
“We believe an extension will allow all of us to focus our efforts on combatting the spread and severity of COVID-19,” the governors said in a March 17 letter to acting Department Secretary Chad Wolf. “More time will also give Congress the ability to pass legislation that will update the 2005 REAL ID Act and bring it up to speed with today’s technology.”
There were also growing delays in Minnesota that were threatening to imperil the ability of those who didn’t apply well ahead of time to be able to board domestic flights in the fall.
A bipartisan group of Minnesota state lawmakers was pushing for a postponement of the deadline.