In view of the holiday season, global travel and aviation bodies are calling on EU governments to take immediate action to restore travel and to swiftly implement the latest European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) guidelines on Covid-19 testing and quarantine measures, in a coordinated fashion.
The world organizations have repeatedly expressed their opposition to conflicting quarantine measures, adding that travelers are “not a high risk”.
According to the latest EASA and ECDC report, air travelers account for “less than 1 percent of all detected coronavirus cases and do not increase the rate of transmission”.
The bodies are now urging European governments to immediately suspend blanket quarantine measures and travel restrictions, claiming that 80 billion euros of potential tourism spending is at risk.
Citing the research, the European Travel Commission (ETC) said the guidelines “provide a clear pathway for EU governments to make informed decisions on travel measures during the Covid-19 pandemic”.
“The guidelines state clearly that people traveling should not automatically be considered as high-risk for spreading infection but should rather be treated in the same way as members of the local population who have not had any direct contact to a person infected with Covid-19,” it said in a statement.
“The importance of restarting mobility in Europe cannot be understated in terms of the role it will play in the recovery of tourism and the wider European economy over the coming months,” said ETC President Luís Araújo.
“This advice has to be swiftly taken on board by governments as we head into the holiday season and begin the path to recovery.”
In the same note, Eric Drésin, rotating secretariat of NET, a network of representative trade associations from Europe’s private tourism sector, called on authorities to lift travel restrictions for short business trips, as they represent a lower risk of transmission, as well as for package travelers, “who like business travelers, have minimal contacts with the local population whilst in the resort”.
Along the same lines, airlines and airports are also supporting the appeal describing passenger quarantines as “ineffective”. They are calling for rapid testing technologies and travel corridors to help restore passenger confidence and support early detection of asymptomatic Covid-19 incidents.
“These guidelines unequivocally show quarantines to be essentially politically-driven, non-risk-based measures which bear no relation to what is actually needed to safeguard public health,” said Olivier Jankovec, director general ACI Europe.
He went on to add that “quarantines fail the test of proportionality, a key principle of EU law – particularly since there are no equivalent measures at land borders. This has resulted in unprecedented limitations to the freedom of movement and the freedom to provide services”.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is calling for rapid testing of passengers, which it said will “open the door to restarting air travel by eliminating quarantine”.
“The EASA/ECDC protocol makes it clear that quarantine is not an effective measure in the present circumstances. And it is important that the protocol should also be applied to remove the temporary travel restrictions on non-essential travel into the EU from third countries”, said Rafael Schvartzman, IATA regional vice president for Europe.
Meanwhile, welcoming the EASA/ECDC guidelines which recommend quarantine exemption for short stay travel, WTTC President & CEO Gloria Guevara underlined the importance of restoring freedom of movement.
“The revival of international business travel is crucial to kickstarting the global economic recovery, as last year, inbound international business travel across Europe accounted for 99.8 billion euros, whilst globally it accounted for more than 272 billion dollars.”