GENEVA, 19 May 2021: More than 20 countries have wholly or
partially lifted restrictions for vaccinated travellers, the International Air
Transport Association reported saying it indicates countries are making data
and evidence-driven decisions to open their borders.

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 (except in certain high-risk countries). Germany
has also removed quarantine requirements for travellers with a negative
Covid-19 test result (except in 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 significant 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.

The implementation of this policy aligns Germany with
recommendations from both the European Commission and the European Parliament,
based on similar scientific advice from the European Centre for Disease Control
and Prevention (ECDC).

In its interim guidance on the benefits of full vaccination,
the ECDC said that “based on the limited evidence available, the likelihood of
an infected vaccinated person transmitting the disease is currently assessed to
be very low to low.”

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 7-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 USC 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 enable the
freedom to travel without quarantine. Germany and at least 20 other countries
have already taken an important step forward in reopening their borders to
vaccinated travellers. These are the best practice examples for others to
quickly follow,” said IATA’s director general Willie Walsh.

Incentive for vaccination

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. Moreover, 74% of people in the same poll agreed
that those vaccinated should be able to travel by air without restrictions.

Digital Solutions

Decisions leading to more countries accepting vaccinated
travellers without quarantine measures adds pressure for a digital solution to
manage vaccine certificates and Covid-19 test results. Paper-based processes
could lead to extremely long processing times at check-in and border control.
They also open the door to fraud. Digital vaccine/test certificates, coupled
with passenger apps such as the IATA Travel Pass, will be needed to manage
travel health credentials efficiently and securely in the restart.

Recent IATA polling shows strong support for digital solutions.

  • 89% supported globally standardized Covid-19 test or vaccination certifications.
  • 84% want an app to manage their travel health credentials.

“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,” said Walsh.

(Source: News IATA)