The International Air Transport Association (IATA) advised governments to avoid quarantine measures when re-opening their economies. IATA is working to reduce the risk of countries importing COVID-19 via air travel and to reduce possible transmission in cases where travels are unknowingly being infected.
Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO said, “Imposing quarantine measures on arriving travelers keep 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 traveling and to mitigate the risk of transmission should a traveler discover they were infected after arrival.”
IATA encourages bio-safety measures in two areas
Reducing the risk of imported cases via travelers by
- Discouraging symptomatic passengers from traveling, and to “do the right thing” and stay home if they are unwell or potentially exposed. Airlines are also offering flexible booking options.
- Carrying out health screening by governments in the form of health declarations. To avoid any risks, standardized contactless electronic declarations via government web portals or government mobile applications are recommended by IATA. Temperature checks are also a part of this. They can also increase passenger confidence. 80% indicated that temperature checks make them feel safer when traveling, according to a recent IATA survey.
- Testing travelers for COVID-19 from “higher-risk” countries before they arrive at the departure airport (so as not to avoid the potential for contagion in the travel process) with documentation to prove a negative result. Testing should be for an active virus (polymerase chain reaction or PCR) rather than for antibodies or antigens.
Mitigating Risk in Cases Where an Infected Person Does Travel
- IATA encourages the universal implementation of the Take-Off guidelines published by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Take-Off is a temporary risk-based and multi-layered approach to Reduce the risks of transmitting COVID-19 during air travel. Measures like wearing masks while traveling, sanitization, health declarations, and social distancing where possible.
- Contact tracing, where rapid identification and isolation of contacts contains the risk without large-scale economic or social disruption using new mobile technology.
- World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Safe Travel protocols help the hospitality sector by Reducing the risk of transmission at the destination. This enables the sector to provide safe tourism and restore traveler confidence. Areas of the industry covered by the protocols.
Travel and tourism account for 10.3% of global GDP and 300 million jobs globally (direct, indirect, and induced economic impact), according to WTTC. Mandatory quarantine measures stop people from traveling. Recent public opinion research shows 83% of travelers would not consider traveling if quarantine measures were imposed on travelers at their destination. Countries imposing quarantine saw arrivals decrease by more than 90%, similar to countries that banned foreign arrivals.
“A layered approach to safety has made flying the safest way to travel while still enabling the system to function efficiently. That should be an inspirational framework to guide governments in protecting their citizens from the terrible risks of both the virus and joblessness. Quarantine is a lop-sided solution that protects one and fails at the other. We need government leadership to deliver balanced protection,” said de Juniac.