March 24 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump has extended an October deadline for Americans to obtain driver's licenses or state identification cards that comply with the new Real ID credential for domestic flights because of the coronavirus.
Trump said at a White House briefing Monday that he would extend the deadline because he didn't want to see state department of motor vehicle offices crowded as the deadline looms.
"At a time when we're asking Americans to maintain social distancing, we do not want to require people to go with their local DMV," Trump said.
He added that he did not know when the new deadline would be, but said he would announce it "very soon."
The Real ID licenses are marked with a star on top of the card.
The Real ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005 based on the 9/11 Commission's recommendation that the federal government "set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver's licenses," a Department of Homeland Security statement shows. The regulations established the Oct. 1 deadline.
DHS Acting Secretary Chad Wolf said last month that approximately two-thirds of all licenses were still not compliant with Real ID requirements.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who chairs the National Governors Association, sent a letter last week to the Trump administration urging for a delay in the deadline since the coronavirus was disrupting state efforts to meet it.
"We are pleased that the federal administration has readily agreed to the governor's request to extend the Real ID deadline," Hogan said in a statement Monday night. "This will help contribute to our efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, and avoid major confusion for the states."
The U.S. Travel Association also applauded the move in its own statement on the matter.
"Extending the Real ID deadline is clearly the wise course of action at this juncture," the statement said. "We've asked DHS that the delay of the Real ID enforcement deadline remain in place until the current economic environment improves and DHS can certify that access to air travel will not be negatively impacted after Real ID enforcement begins."
"The already difficult task of bringing the country closer to Real ID compliance is now clearly impossible due to the coronavirus," the statement continued. "Clearly the administration understands that the economic damage of coronavirus is already massive, and as we move toward a recovery phase it would be terrible if the Real ID deadline hits and creates yet another obstacle to people traveling. To get this economy moving again, people need to be able to move again."