IATA (International Air Transport Association) is urging governments to avoid quarantine measures when re-opening their economies, advocating instead for a layered approach of measures in the wake of Covid-19.

“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 traveller discover they were infected after arrival,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

Their recommendations include:

  • Discouraging symptomatic passengers from traveling: It is important that passengers do not travel when ill. De Juniac notes that airlines are offering travellers flexibility in adjusting their bookings, to encourage passengers to ‘do the right thing’ and stay home if they are unwell or potentially exposed.
  • Public health risk mitigation measures: IATA says it supports health screening by governments in the form of health declarations, especially standardized e-declarations via government web portals or government mobile apps. Health screening using measures like non-intrusive temperature checks can also play an important role. They’re not the most effective screening method for Covid-19 symptoms, but they can act as a deterrent to travelling while unwell, says IATA, plus they boost consumer confidence.
  • 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. Tests would need to be widely available and highly accurate, says IATA, with results delivered quickly.