The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has urged governments to end the ever-changing travel restrictions of COVID-19, as these measures are hampering the recovery of air transport.
The association criticized states’ failure to recognize all WHO-approved vaccines, testing requirements, and a lack of commitment to recognize take-back certificate equally with vaccination, and noted that pre-departure testing requirements are too confusing and sometimes discouraging for travelers, TheSchengen.com reports.
Willie Walsh, director of the International Air Transport Association, highlighted that travel restrictions were introduced as a measure early in the pandemic, and it doesn’t make sense to keep them in place for long.
“COVID-19 exists all over the world. Travel restrictions are a complex and confusing web of rules with little consistency among them. There is little evidence to support the ongoing border restrictions and the economic chaos they cause,” Walsh said.
Vaccinated travelers must be exempted from entry rules
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) proposes to make vaccines available to all countries as soon as possible. Furthermore, the union urged governments to end travel requirements for fully vaccinated travelers. She also indicated that testing should be made available to those who cannot obtain vaccines, and those individuals should be allowed to travel without being subjected to self-isolation.
Antigen tests should also be the primary testing option since they are considered cost-effective and travel-friendly, IATA revealed. But, on the other hand, the association also called on governments to start covering the costs of testing, so the requirement would not become an economic barrier to travel.
The association also believes that test results for passengers arriving in the UK demonstrate that the travelers do not pose an epidemic risk to the local population.
According to the International Air Transport Association, 42,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 out of the three million passengers arriving at UK airports between February and August, fewer than 250 positive cases per day.
However, when governments began vaccinating their residents, states opened their doors to vaccinated travelers. The first to open were the European Union, then Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.
50 countries show no agreement on test requirements
IATA also believes that the way borders are reopened is too complex, and that bureaucratic procedures are delaying global reconnection. According to a survey of 50 countries, some travel restrictions were placed on 38 of them, or 76 percent, and only seven countries were allowed to enter without restrictions.
Moreover, these 38 countries do not agree with their entry restrictions, with 20 of them intending to ease entry restrictions for vaccinated travelers, but only six of them confirmed their exemption from minors, whose age definition did not qualify for the free entry requirement. It has not yet been determined.
The International Air Transport Association noted that “Thirty-three states exempt minors from testing, but without consistency with age, and in some cases, the rules differ if the minor is accompanied by a vaccinated adult.”
Also, nine countries do not recognize vaccines approved by the World Health Organization. In addition, there are five different definitions among the country’s guidelines about which vaccines are considered effective.
Furthermore, there is no agreement about how long a traveler who has received the vaccination should wait after his or her final dose.
The International Air Transport Association noted that “only four countries (Germany, France, Switzerland and Austria) recognize immunity from previous COVID-19 infections as equivalent to vaccination,” noting also that there is no agreement on what is required to prove that the carrier has recovered from the virus.
According to pre-departure tests, 46 out of 50 countries require one passenger before entering those countries, and 24 only accept PCR testing, which is more expensive. About 16 tests recognize the antigen test, but these tests must be supported by a PCR option if the antigen test is positive.
Twenty states have exempted recovered travelers from testing requirements, but there is a lack of consistency in proof of previous infection.
The situation is chaotic, recovery falters, and alignment is unlikely, Walsh said. The IATA has also spoken about digitizing the vaccination certificate, praising Europe for its EUDCC initiative, and advising governments to follow suit.