Major airline groups push for end to coronavirus quarantines, travel bans

Reuters Washington | Updated on October 23, 2020 Published on October 23, 2020

Plead Trump administration to pursue a risk-based approach to Covid testing

The US, state governments and some foreign countries should replace quarantines and travel bans on airline passengers with Covid-19 testing of travellers before departure and upon arrival, airline and business groups said on Thursday.

They said the move would boost US international air travel, which is down 78 per cent year-over-year for the most recent seven-day period, according to airline industry data.

Also read: IATA working with WHO, civil aviation body on Covid testing regime

The groups, which include the International Air Transport Association, Airlines for America, the US Chamber of Commerce, airline unions and the US Travel Association, called on the Trump administration, state governors and international partners “to pursue a risk-based and data-driven approach to Covid-19 testing which would obviate the need for quarantines and travel bans so that the travel network can be safely re-opened.”

The groups added that “travel quarantines are decimating our industry.”

Currently, 18 US states have some type of quarantine for arriving travellers, the groups said. Hawaii last week began allowing airline passengers who tested negative for Covid-19 to avoid a two-week mandatory quarantine upon arrival.

The US still has in place entry bans on nearly all non-US citizens who recently were in China, the UK, Ireland, Brazil, Iran and countries in the so-called Schengen border-free area of Europe.

Nearly all of Europe still bans most US travellers, while the UK allows Americans to visit but requires a two-week quarantine upon arrival.

“The continued restrictions on international travel and differing state and international quarantine policies are hampering the recovery of the US economy,” the letter added.

The Trump administration has been holding high-level discussions with countries including the UK, Germany, Japan, Canada and Italy about the possibility of establishing “flight bubbles” that would allow travel or reduce quarantines if passengers agreed to Covid-19 tests before departure and upon arrival.

Under discussion are whether a quarantine would still be required, with some health experts in the Trump administration calling for a one-week quarantine, and what test would be used. Rising coronavirus infections in some countries, such as the US, pose a hurdle to lifting restrictions.

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Published on October 23, 2020
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