Tuesday, February 08, 2022

IATA to govts: Covid is becoming endemic, do away with travel bans

Mumbai: Global airlines trade body, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), has requested governments to remove all travel bans and barriers, including quarantine and testing, as Covid-19 moves from a pandemic to the endemic stage. In India, an association that represents the country’s tourism, travel and hospitality industry has requested the government to remove the ban on international commercial passenger flights.

World wide, quite a few countries will be easing travel restrictions this month. The UK will remove testing requirements for vaccinated international passengers arriving from February 11; Australia, one of the countries with the strictest entry barriers, will open its border on February 21; and New Zealand will begin its five -stage reopen on February 27.

In India, currently, commercial passenger international flights stand suspended till February 29, close to 23 months now. But curtailed flight operations are on, though limited to the 28 countries that have a bilateral air bubble arrangement with India. The Federation of Associations in India Tourism and Hospitality (FAITH) on Monday urged the Indian government to “announce the opening up of our borders and resumption of full commercial airline flights with zero quarantine for fully vaccinated travellers across all Indian ports.” It has requested the tourism ministry to take up the matter with the health ministry. Continued entry curbs will cost the industry, which in 2019-20 received about $ 30bn in revenue, it added.

Willie Walsh, IATA director general, said 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 Covid spread. “The measures have not worked. Today Omicron is present in all parts of the world. That’s why travel, with very few exceptions, does not increase the risk to general populations. The billions spent testing travelers would be far more effective if allocated to vaccine distribution or strengthening health care systems,” he said.

08/02/22 Times of India

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