It urged governments to implement simplified regimes to manage the risks of Covid-19 as borders re-open to international travel.
“Travel restrictions bought governments time to respond in the early days of the pandemic,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General. “Nearly two years later, that rationale no longer exists. Covid-19 is present in all parts of the world. Travel restrictions are a complex and confusing web of rules with very little consistency among them. And there is little evidence to support ongoing border restrictions and the economic havoc they create.”
In the last few months, several countries that had previously been closed have taken steps to open to vaccinated travellers. Among those that were previously closed, Europe was an early mover, followed by Canada, the UK, the US, and Singapore.
IATA supports these moves and encourages all governments to consider the following framework for re-opening borders:
- Vaccines should be made available to all as quickly as possible
- Vaccinated travellers should not face any barriers to travel
- Testing should enable those without access to vaccines to travel without quarantine
- Antigen tests are the key to cost-effective and convenient testing regimes
- Governments should pay for testing, so it does not become an economic barrier to travel.
Too much complexity in travel restriction rules
Walsh commented: “There is far too much complexity in the way borders are re-opening. The potential for a global reconnect could be hijacked by bureaucracies favouring stand-alone ‘made-at-home’ solutions over approaches that work across borders.”
It is also clear that digital health credentials – documentation of vaccination or testing status – will be needed as borders re-open, said IATA. Experience even at today’s low levels of travel tells us that there will be ‘chaos in airports if we rely on paper processes’, the organisation added.
“Europe has made a good start,” said Walsh. “The EU Digital Covid Certificate is an efficient and reliable standard to record test and vaccination status. If governments are looking for a standard to follow, this is our recommendation. And if governments are looking for a ready-made solution to manage travel health credentials using e-gates, IATA Travel Pass is a solution.”