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IATA supports unrestricted travel for vaccinated passengers

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) applauded the growing number of countries opening their borders

The latest data collected by IATA, including its Timatic service, shows that more than 20 countries have wholly or partially lifted restrictions for vaccinated travellers.

IATA supports unrestricted access to travel for vaccinated travellers. In cases where vaccination is not possible, access to quarantine-free travel should be provided through Covid-19 testing strategies based on widely available, free-of-charge tests.

Germany is among the latest countries to make quarantine alleviations for vaccinated travellers. Vaccinated travellers are no longer subject to quarantine measures. Germany has also removed quarantine requirements for travellers with a negative Covid-19 test result (except from certain high-risk countries).

The German government decision followed a review of scientific advice from the world-renowned Robert Koch Institute (RKI), which concluded that vaccinated travellers are no longer significant in the spread of the disease and do not pose a major risk to the German population. Specifically, it stated that vaccination reduces the risk of Covid-19 transmission to levels below the risk from a false negative rapid antigen test.

Similar conclusions are being reached on the other side of the Atlantic. In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC) has noted that “with a 90% effective vaccine, pre-travel testing, post-travel testing, and seven-day self-quarantine provide minimal additional benefit.”

“A safe opening of borders to international travel is the goal. And scientific evidence and data such as that presented by RKI, ECDC and US CDC should be the basis for the decision-making needed to achieve that. There is increasing scientific evidence that vaccination is not only protecting people but also dramatically reducing the risk of Covid-19 transmission. This is bringing us closer to a world where vaccination and testing will enable the freedom to travel without quarantine. At least 20 countries have already taken an important step forward in re-opening their borders to vaccinated travellers. These are the best practice examples for others to quickly follow,” said IATA director general Willie Walsh.

According to the US CDC, alleviations from Covid-19 restrictions are a powerful motivator for vaccination, particularly in communities where vaccine hesitancy is prevalent. This is an additional and important benefit of restriction-free travel for those vaccinated. IATA polling indicates that 81% of international travellers are willing to get vaccinated in order to be able to travel.  

Walsh added: “A gap is opening up between countries responding to scientific evidence, and those exhibiting a lack of preparation or excessive caution in reopening borders. Countries that seize the opportunity offered by the increasing numbers of vaccinated travellers can protect their populations and reap an economic reward.” 

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