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International Air Transport Association urges governments to ease Covid-19 travel restrictions

A passenger aircraft descends to land at Heathrow Airport. Picture: Reuters/Toby Melville

A passenger aircraft descends to land at Heathrow Airport. Picture: Reuters/Toby Melville

Published Jan 26, 2022

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Governments around the world should ease travel restrictions that were imposed during the Covid-19 pandemic, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said in a statement on Tuesday.

“IATA urged governments to accelerate relaxation of travel restrictions as Covid-19 continues to evolve from the pandemic to endemic stage,” the statement read.

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Specifically, IATA called on the authorities to remove all travel restrictions for people who are "fully vaccinated" with vaccines approved by the World Health Organization, remove travel bans and accelerate easing of travel restrictions in recognition that travellers pose no greater risk for spreading the coronavirus than already exists in the general population.

“With the experience of the Omicron variant, there is mounting scientific evidence and opinion opposing the targeting of travellers with restrictions and country bans to control the spread of Covid-19. The measures have not worked,” IATA’s Director General Willie Walsh said in the statement.

The fact that the coronavirus Omicron variant is present in all parts of the world means travel does not increase risks of additional infections, Walsh added.

Walsh warned that that imposed travel restrictions over two years during the pandemic have created a unfavourable and a costly situation for travellers and travel carriers alike.

“We have two years of experience to guide us on a simplified and coordinated path to normal travel when Covid-19 is endemic.

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“That normality must recognize that travellers, with very few exceptions, will present no greater risk than exists in the general population,” he said.

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