LONDON – The reintroduction of testing requirements and other air travel restrictions on passengers arriving from China has been slammed as a “knee-jerk reinstatement of steps that have proven ineffective” by IATA boss Willie Walsh.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) represents some 300 airlines internationally, comprising 83% of all global air traffic.
In a statement issued today, IATA Director General was critical of the move by several nations to reinstatement measures such as the requirement for travellers to acquire a negative test for Covid19 prior to travelling. He stated:
“Several countries are introducing COVID-19 testing and other measures for travellers from China, even though the virus is already circulating widely within their borders.”
“It is extremely disappointing to see this knee-jerk reinstatement of measures that have proven ineffective over the last three years.
“Research undertaken around the arrival of the Omicron variant concluded that putting barriers in the way of travel made no difference to the peak spread of infections.”
“At most, restrictions delayed that peak by a few days. If a new variant emerges in any part of the world, the same situation would be expected.”
“Listen to the experts” says IATA
Director General Walsh went on to urge nations to act on the advice and recommendations of experts, saying:
“That’s why governments should listen to the advice of experts, including the WHO, that advise against travel restrictions. We have the tools to manage COVID-19 without resorting to ineffective measures that cut off international connectivity, damage economies and destroy jobs.”
“Governments must base their decisions on ‘science facts’ rather than ‘science politics,” he added, before urging China to remove the pre-departure requirements, saying:
“While China has significantly eased border measures, I urge the Chinese government to remove the need for pre-departure COVID-19 testing for those traveling to China.”
Nations applying travel requirements on China
Presently, a number of European Union (EU) nations are imposing air travel restrictions or requirements on inbound travellers from mainland China.
Italy, Slain and France were amongst the first EU nations to apply travel requirements, with Belgium also now calling for COVID check to be reinstated.
The United Kingdom followed suit, making a U-turn on its previously publicly stated stance of not imposing restrictions. The UK will require a negative pre-departure COVID19 test from Chinese travellers from 5 January.
Other countries which have imposed requirements now includes Australia, Canada, India, Israel, Malaysia, Morocco, Qatar, South Korea, Taiwan and the USA.