Alexandre de Juniac, IATA DG & CEO, said: “Imposing quarantine measures on arriving travellers keeps 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 traveling and to mitigate the risk of transmission should a traveler discover they were infected after arrival.”
IATA has proposed a layering of bio-safety measures in two areas:
* Reducing the risk of imported cases via travellers: “Discouraging symptomatic passengers from traveling… encourage passengers to ‘do the right thing’ and stay home if they are unwell or potentially exposed. Airlines are offering travellers flexibility in adjusting their bookings…. support health screening by governments in the form of standardised contactless electronic health declarations,” IATA said in a statement.
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It has proposed COVID-19 testing for travellers from countries perceived to be “higher-risk”. “When accepting travellers from countries where the rate of new infections is significantly higher, the arrival authority could consider COVID-19 testing. It is recommended that tests are undertaken prior to arrival at the departure airport (so as not to add to airport congestion and avoid the potential for contagion in the travel process) with documentation to prove a negative result,” it says.
* Mitigating risk in cases where an infected person does travel: To reduce risk of transmission during the air travel journey, IATA has proposed universal implementation of take-off guidelines like mask wearing throughout the travel process, sanitisation, health declarations and social distancing where possible. The other moves are contact tracing.
De Juniac said: “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 destination. And effective contact tracing can isolate those most at risk without major disruptions.”