Travel restrictions are causing more harm than good, says ACI Europe director general Olivier Jankovec
According to independent research conducted in Finland and Italy, travel restrictions and pre-departure testing requirements in the EU had little or no impact on the spread of the Omicron Covid-19 variant.
As a result, the ACI Europe (Airports Council International) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have urged European governments to lift all travel restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers and recovered individuals holding a valid Digital Covid Certificate.
This new protocol, recommended by the EU Council, is based on the health status of individual travellers rather than Covid-19 cases in their country.
The findings presented by Oxera and Edge Health have revealed that pre-departure testing requirements are likely to be ineffective at stopping or even limiting the spread of the Omicron variant.
The analysis of testing restrictions imposed by Italy and Finland on 16 December and 28 December 2021 respectively on all incoming travellers found no distinguishable difference to transmission of Omicron cases in those countries.
However, the impact of these restrictions resulted in significant negative economic impact for the travel and tourism sectors and their workforce, and for the European economy in general.
Speaking about the newly implemented European regulations, ACI Europe director general Olivier Jankovec said: “The new regime for intra-EU/EEA travel is right to focus on a ‘person-based approach’ and to recognise that both vaccinated and recovered travellers should not be subjected to any restriction.
“Having common EU regimes has so far not prevented States from going their own way. This must stop. We now have further proof that travel restrictions do have a significant effect, but it’s not on public health, it’s on economic stability and livelihoods. In short, they are causing more harm than good.”
IATA deputy director general Conrad Clifford added: “The research is clear that the inevitable delay in identifying new variants means that transmission already occurs by the time travel restrictions are imposed. It’s the classic case of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.
“Keeping testing in place for vaccinated passengers therefore seems completely ineffective from the health point of view, but damages passenger confidence and national economies. This latest research should give governments confidence to implement the EU recommendation in full, enabling Europe to get moving again.”