IATA: 'Imposing quarantine measures on arriving travellers keep countries in isolation'
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) urged countries to avoid quarantine measures when reopening their economies. Many destinations have implemented quarantine measures to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. IATA’s Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said imposing quarantine measures on arriving travellers kept countries in isolation and the travel and tourism sector in lockdown.
He said mandatory quarantine measures discouraged people from travelling. Recent public opinion research revealed that 83% of travellers would not even consider travelling if quarantine measures were imposed on travellers at their destination. An analysis of trends during the lockdown period shows that countries imposing quarantine saw arrivals decrease by more than 90%—an outcome that is similar to countries that banned foreign arrivals.
He said safely restarting the economy is a priority, which included 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. And effective contact tracing can isolate those most at risk without major disruptions.
“Quarantine is a lop-sided solution that protects one and absolutely fails at the other. We need government leadership to deliver a balanced protection,” said de Juniac.
IATA believed in promoting a layered approach of measures to reduce the risk of countries importing Covid-19 via air travel and to mitigate the possibility of transmission in cases where people may travel while unknowingly infected.De Juniac said IATA is proposing a framework to encourage sick people to avoid travel and to mitigate the risk of transmission should a traveller discover they were infected after arrival.IATA encouraged a layering of bio-safety measures in two areas. These include reducing the risk of imported cases via travellers and reducing the risk of transmission during the air travel journey. De Juniac said that it's important that passengers do not travel when ill.
“IATA supports health screening by governments in the form of health declarations. Health screening using measures such as non-intrusive temperature checks can also play an important role. Although temperature checks are not the most effective screening method for Covid-19 symptoms, they can act as a deterrent to travelling while unwell. Temperature checks can also shore-up passenger confidence: in a recent IATA survey of travellers, 80% indicated that temperature checks make them feel safer when travelling,” he said.
De Juniac said there needed to be Covid-19 testing for travellers from countries perceived as "high risk", which he suggested be done before the day of travel.
Another factor he said would avoid quarantine measures at a destination is by reducing the risk of transmission during the air travel journey.
“IATA encourages the universal implementation of the Take-Off guidelines published by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). Take-Off is a temporary risk-based and multi-layered approach to mitigate the risks of transmitting Covid-19 during air travel. These include mask-wearing throughout the travel process, sanitisation, health declarations and social distancing where possible.Contact tracing is a back-up measure, should someone be detected as infected after arrival,”he said.