The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has urged countries to implement the World Health Organization’s updated travel guidelines (WHO).

The guidance suggests taking a “risk-based approach” to applying Covid-19 and international travel safeguards.

WHO specifically advised governments to:

  • Not insist on proof of Covid-19 vaccination as a mandatory condition for entry or exit.
  • Relax rules such as testing and/or quarantine requirements for travellers who are fully vaccinated or have had a verified previous Covid-19 infection within the past six months and are no longer infectious.
  • Ensure that unvaccinated individuals have alternative avenues to international travel through testing. For this aim, the WHO recommends using rRT-PCR tests, also known as antigen detection rapid diagnostic tests (Ag-RDTs), followed by confirmation rRT-PCR testing on positive samples.
  • Implement test and/or quarantine measures for foreign travellers “on a risk-based manner” with testing and quarantine rules regularly reviewed to ensure they are lifted when no longer necessary.

IATA Director General Willie Walsh stated, “These common sense, risk-based recommendations from WHO, if followed by states, will allow for international air travel to resume while minimizing the chance of importing Covid-19.

“As the WHO notes – and as the latest UK testing data proves – international travellers are not a high-risk group in terms of Covid-19.

“Out of 1.65 million tests carried out on arriving international passengers in the UK since February, only 1.4 per cent were positive for Covid-19.

“It’s long past time for governments to incorporate data into risk-based decision-making process for re-opening borders.”

States were also urged by WHO to notify any changes to international health-related measures and requirements “in a timely and adequate manner.”  

Walsh added that consumers are faced with a maze of unclear, disorganised, and rapidly changing border entry restrictions that deter them from going, resulting in economic hardship for people in the travel and tourism industry.

“According to our latest passenger survey, 70 per cent of recent travellers thought the rules were a challenge to understand,” Walsh stated.

Furthermore, WHO urged countries to consider bilateral, multilateral, and regional agreements, particularly with neighbouring countries, “with the aim of facilitating the recovery of key socioeconomic activities,” such as tourism, which relies heavily on international travel.


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