IATA Urges Govts | Remove All Travel Barriers For Fully vaccinated

GENEVA: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has urged governments to remove all travel barriers, including quarantine and testing, for those fully vaccinated as Covid-19 continues to evolve from the pandemic to endemic stage.

 IATA has also called for:

A: Enabling quarantine-free travel for non-vaccinated travelers with a negative pre-departure antigen test result.

B: Removing travel bans, and

C: Accelerating the easing of travel restrictions in recognition that travelers 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 travelers with restrictions and country bans to control the spread of Covid-19. The measures have not worked,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director-General.

“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 travelers would be far more effective if allocated to vaccine distribution or strengthening health care systems,”

A recently published study by Oxera and Edge Health demonstrated the extremely limited impact of travel restrictions on controlling the spread of Omicron. The study found that:

• If the UK’s extra measures with respect to Omicron had been in place from the beginning of November (prior to the identification of the variant), the peak of the Omicron wave would have been delayed by just five days with 3% fewer cases.

• The absence of any testing measures for travelers would have seen the Omicron wave peak seven days earlier with an overall 8% increase in cases.

• Now that Omicron is highly prevalent in the UK, if all travel testing requirements were removed there would be no impact on Omicron case numbers or hospitalizations in the UK.

“While the study is specific to the UK, it is clear that travel restrictions in any part of the world have had little impact on the spread of Covid-19, including the Omicron variant. The UK, France, and Switzerland have recognized this and are among the first to begin removing travel measures. More governments need to follow their lead. Accelerating the removal of travel restrictions will be a major step towards living with the virus,” said Walsh.

With respect to travel bans, the WHO Emergency Committee has confirmed their 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 the international spread of Omicron demonstrates the ineffectiveness of such measures over time.”

The successful rollout of the IATA Travel Pass continues with a growing number of airlines already using it in daily operations to support the validation of health credentials for travel.

“Whatever the rules are for vaccination requirements, the industry will be able to manage them with digital solutions, the leader of which is the Iata Travel Pass. It’s a matured solution being implemented across a growing number of global networks,” said Walsh.

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