International Air Transport Association (IATA) urges for alternatives to quarantine, in order to maintain the pace of a country’s travel and tourism, instead of slowing it down. By Tanvi Jain

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has urged governments to avoid quarantine measures when re-opening their economies. “Imposing quarantine measures on arriving travellers will 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 travelling and to mitigate the risk of transmission should a traveller discover they were infected after arrival,” IATA’s Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said. 

IATA has suggested a layering of bio-safety measures to reduce the risk of imported cases via travellers, by discouraging symptomatic passengers from travelling, supporting health screening by governments in the form of health declarations and temperature checksrecommending standardised contactless electronic declarations via government web portals or government mobile applications to avoid privacy issues and cut the risk of infection. 

Further measures include urging arrival authorities to consider COVID-19 tests while accepting travellers from high-risk countriesIn fact, better if undertaken prior to arrival at the departure airport to avoid the potential for contagion in the travel process, with documentation to prove a negative result.  

The international travel body is also of the view that tests should be widely available and highly accurate, with results delivered quickly, should be independently validated so as to be mutually recognised by governments and securely transmitted to the relevant authorities, and should be conducted only for active virus not for antibodies or antigens. 

It further promotes universal implementation of the Take-Off guidelines published by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), which include wearing mask throughout the travel process, ensuring sanitisation, health declarations and social distancing wherever possible.  

 

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“Safely restarting the economy is a priority. That includes travel and tourism. Quarantine measures may play a role in keeping people safe, but they will also keep many unemployed. The alternative is to reduce risks through a series of measures. Airlines are already offering flexibility so there is no incentive for sick or at-risk people to travel. Health declarations, screening and testing by governments will add extra layers of protection. And if someone travels while infected, we can reduce the risk of transmission with protocols to prevent the spread during travel or when at the destination. Effective contact tracing can isolate those most at risk without major disruptions,” said de Juniac. 

Related: IATA Pushes Governments Around The World For Quick Implementation Of ICAO Guidelines To Facilitate Safe Flying