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IATA proposes alternatives to quarantine measures

Lagos Local Airport is taking shape ahead of flight resumption-Photo source FAAN

THUR, JUN 25 2020-theG&BJournal-The International Air Transport Association (IATA) urged governments to avoid quarantine measures when re-opening their economies, and suggested as alternative a layered approach of measures to reduce the risk of countries importing COVID-19 via air travel.

“Imposing quarantine measures on arriving traveler keeps countries in isolation and the travel and tourism sector in lockdown,’’ Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO said.

de Juniac said 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 travelling and to mitigate the risk of transmission should a traveler discover they were infected after arrival,” He said.

IATA proposed a layering of bio-safety measures in two areas: First is Reducing the risk of imported cases via travellers-this entails discouraging symptomatic passengers from travelling, Public health risk mitigation measures in the form of health declarations, and COVID-19 testing for travellers from countries perceived to be “higher-risk”. In other words, when accepting travelers from countries where the rate of new infections is significantly higher, the arrival authority could consider COVID-19 testing.

The second proposal entails mitigating risk in cases where an infected person does travel through the universal implementation of the Take-Off guidelines published by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). These include mask wearing throughout the travel process, sanitization, health declarations and social distancing where possible, contact tracing and reducing risk of transmission at destination by adopting the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Safe Travel protocols. Areas of the industry covered by the protocols include hospitality, attractions, retail, tour operators, and meeting planners.

‘’There is every economic incentive to make a layered approach work,’’ de Juniac said. ‘’The World Travel and Tourism Council estimates that travel and tourism accounts for 10.3% of global GDP and 300 million jobs globally (direct, indirect and induced economic impact).’’

Mandatory quarantine measures stop people from travelling. Recent public opinion research revealed that 83% of travellers would not even consider travelling if quarantine measures were imposed on traveler at their destination. And 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.

“A layered approach to safety has made flying the safest way to travel while still enabling the system to function efficiently. That should be an inspirational framework to guide governments in protecting their citizens from the terrible risks of both the virus and joblessness. 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.

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