The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and ACI Europe, the trade association of Europe’s airports, are urging Greece to take further steps and lift all health-related travel restrictions ahead of the summer season.
In a recent letter to Greek Tourism Minister Vassilis Kikilias, Transport Minister Kostas Karamanlis and Interior Minister Makis Voridis, the two associations called for Greece to follow other European Union and European Economic Area (EEA) Member States including Iceland, Ireland, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden and Switzerland in restoring free movement for citizens across the continent.
In the letter, IATA and ACI Europe pointed out that the rapid development and distribution of highly-effective vaccines and treatments have given society the tools to live with COVID-19.
According to the associations, 82 percent of the adult European population has been vaccinated, over 62 percent have received a booster and more than 20 percent have recovered from the virus.
“Given this improving context across the EU and the EEA/CH, an increasing number of countries have now removed domestic COVID-19 restrictions and have lifted all travel-related health measures for intra-EEA/CHflights,” IATA and ACI Europe said.
The two associations called on the Greek government to remove all health-related travel restrictions ahead of the summer season, and as a minimum on intra EEA/CH flights; and to ensure that travel is possible without mandatory testing or additional measures for at least fully vaccinated or recovered travellers, regardless of their country of origin.
IATA and ACI Europe also called for the Greek government to align the criteria for the validity of recovery certificates, according to EU recommendations, for domestic travel (i.e. 180 days for all passengers irrespective of their country of origin and residency).
In addition, the associations said the government should allow those vaccinated with a WHO-approved vaccine to travel into the country with no additional restrictions as is the case for those passengers vaccinated with an EMA-approved vaccine.
“Governments that have already lifted all travel related measures for intra-EEA/CH flights understood that travel restrictions have little to no long-term impact on the spread of a virus and that the economic and social hardship caused for very limited benefit is simply no longer justifiable,” the associations said.
It should be noted that Greece has taken steps in lifting travel restrictions. The Greek government has already announced that the Passenger Locator Form (PLF) will no longer be required for travel to Greece from March 15 and onwards.
The country also does not apply any additional restrictions (such as testing for Covid-19 before travel for the vaccinated) for European Union Digital Covid Certificate (EUDCC) holders coming from the EU and Schengen zone countries and 35 non-EU countries and territories that have joined the EUDCC system.
Moreover, in their letter, IATA and ACI Europe cited data from a study confirming that imposing travel restrictions following the detection of a new variant does not affect the size of the peak of an outbreak but might only delay the timing of the peak by a few days, but only if they are introduced pre-emptively or on the day that the variant is first imported.
IATA and ACI Europe sent similar letters to ministers of other Member States referring to the need to lift travel restrictions and give back to citizens of the EU and EEA/CH the fundamental right to free movement across the continent.