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IATA leads calls to scrap remaining Covid-19 rules in Europe

IATA leads calls to scrap remaining Covid-19 rules in Europe

Airports Council International (ACI) has joined with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to call for all remaining Covid-19 restrictions applying to intra-EU and Schengen area travel to be dropped.

This includes all testing requirements, the need to present proof of vaccination or complete a passenger locator form.

The organisations also want to see mask-wearing scrapped for travel within or between states where it is no longer required in other indoor environments.

Covid-19, and specifically the Omicron variant, is now pervasive throughout all of Europe, and population immunity is at such levels that the “risk of hospitalisation or death has dramatically reduced,” especially for vaccinated people, IATA argued.

States are adopting surveillance strategies to ensure public health, in the same way as they do for other coronaviruses and infectious diseases.

Many European states have lifted domestic Covid-19 restrictions, such as the need to provide health credentials to enter social events, or the requirement to wear masks in public spaces.

Contact tracing efforts are also being stood down, rendering locator forms for international travel redundant.

As European countries open up and remove restrictions, it is only logical to remove similar restrictions from air transport.

IATA and ACI Europe today presented further evidence in support of aligning air transport rules with domestic regulations.

New research by OXERA/Edge Health shows that even if a new variant is discovered and travel restrictions introduced immediately, this only delays the peak of infections by a maximum of only four days.

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In reality, by the time that a new variant emerges, is identified, and restrictions are put in place, the variant is likely already circulating in communities around the world.

In a scenario where restrictions are delayed by a week from identification, the peak in infections per 100,000 people is only delayed by a maximum of two days.

These negligible health benefits are therefore outweighed by the significant social and economic damage caused by the negative impact on air travel.

“The independent research and modelling published today shows that governments can lift restrictions with confidence – both for today and for any future variants of concern. 

“Travel restrictions have proven to be a blunt instrument with little to no impact on virus transmission.

“Removing all Covid-19 restrictions will finally fully restore the freedom to travel.

“That will be a much-needed boost for the whole travel and tourism sectors which has been forced to shed hundreds of thousands of jobs during the pandemic,” said Olivier Jankovec, director general, ACI Europe.

Julia Simpson, World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) chief executive, said the body supported the call.

A statement added: “WTTC fully supports the call from IATA and ACI Europe to end all remaining restrictions applying to intra-EU and Schengen area travel.

“The patchwork of restrictions do nothing to prevent the spread of Covid-19 but have caused serious damage to the economy, causing the loss of jobs and businesses.

“Over the past few weeks, we have seen economies reopening.

“It is time to remove these ineffective restrictions and allow people to travel freely.”