IATA says its time to remove travel barriers IATA says its time to remove travel barriers

‘Time to remove travel barriers’

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has urged governments to accelerate relaxation of travel restrictions as Covid-19 continues to evolve from the pandemic to endemic stage.

IATA has called for removing all travel barriers (including quarantine and testing) for those fully vaccinated with a WHO-approved vaccine, enabling quarantine-free travel for non-vaccinated travellers with a negative pre-departure antigen test result, removing travel bans, and accelerating the easing of travel restrictions in recognition that travellers pose no greater risk for Covid-19 spread than already exists in the general population.

‘With the experience of the Omicron variant, there is mounting scientific evidence and opinion opposing the targeting of travellers with restrictions and country bans to control the spread of Covid-19. The measures have not worked. Today Omicron is present in all parts of the world. That’s why travel, with very few exceptions, does not increase the risk to general populations. The billions spent testing travellers would be far more effective if allocated to vaccine distribution or strengthening health care systems,’ says Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general.

Walsh points out that the UK, France and Switzerland are among the first to begin removing travel measures. ‘More governments need to follow their lead,’ says Walsh.

In January, the WHO Emergency Committee confirmed its recommendation to: ‘Lift or ease international traffic bans as they do not provide added value and continue to contribute to the economic and social stress experienced by states. The failure of travel restrictions introduced after the detection and reporting of Omicron variant to limit international spread of Omicron demonstrates the ineffectiveness of such measures over time.