Iata also proposed a two-step alternative of focusing on reducing the risk of “importing Covid” on flights.
The International Air Transport Association (Iata) on Wednesday urged governments to avoid quarantine measures when re-opening their economies and proposed a two-step risk mitigation strategy as an alternative to quarantines and travel bans.
In its weekly Covid-19 press briefing, the industry association urged governments to urgently address the damage being done by quarantines and travel restrictions by focusing on the implementation measures recommended by the ICAO Council’s Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART).
“Quarantine requirements unilaterally imposed by individual countries are proving to be as damaging to the air transport industry’s efforts to recover as full-blown travel bans,” it said.
Iata proposed a two-step alternative of focusing on reducing the risk of “importing Covid” on flights and also reducing the risk of transmission of the virus in destination countries.
“Imposing quarantine measures on arriving travellers keeps countries in isolation and the travel and tourism sector in lockdown. Fortunately, there are policy alternatives that can reduce the risk of importing Covid-19 infections while still allowing for the resumption of travel and tourism that are vital to jumpstarting national economies. We are proposing a framework with layers of protection to keep sick people from travelling and to mitigate the risk of transmission should a traveller discover they were infected after arrival,” said Alexandre de Juniac, Iata’s director general and CEO.
“To emphasize, we are not suggesting that governments with quarantine measures in place should simply open their borders. We are suggesting that governments who assess the need for quarantine, should consider a layering of measures with two objectives:
“The first objective is to prevent infected people from flying. Airlines are helping this with flexible conditions for re-booking. Health declarations and eventually Covis-19 testing for arrivals from high-risk areas are extra layers of protection. The second objective is to prevent clusters from forming in the case that an infected person does travel. Contact tracing will help with this process. And, while the costs of contact tracing are significant, they are far lower than the cost of keeping the travel and tourism business in lockdown,” he said.
“Safely restarting the economy is a priority. That includes travel and tourism. Quarantine measures may play a role in keeping people safe, but they will also keep many unemployed. The alternative is to reduce risks through a series of measures. Airlines are already offering flexibility so there is no incentive for sick or at-risk people to travel. Health declarations, screening and testing by governments will add extra layers of protection. And if someone travels while infected, we can reduce the risk of transmission with protocols to prevent the spread during travel or when at destination. And effective contact tracing can isolate those most at risk without major disruptions,” said de Juniac.
Iata’s chief economist Brian Pearce showed findings from a new survey indicating that travellers are as concerned about being subject to quarantine requirements as they are about becoming infected by the virus. In the survey, 45 per cent of the respondents said they are very concerned about Covid infection and 39 per cent said they are concerned.
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