Quarantine Measures Threaten Aviation Restart

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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has urged governments in Africa and the Middle East (AME) to implement alternatives to quarantine on arrival that would allow economies to re-start while avoiding the importation of COVID-19 cases.

The body said government-imposed quarantine measures in 36 countries across Africa and the Middle East (AME) account for 40 per cent of all quarantine measures globally. With over 80 per cent of travelers unwilling to travel when quarantine is required, the impact of these measures is that countries remain in lockdown even if their borders are open, it noted.

“It is critical that AME governments implement alternatives to quarantine measures. AME has the highest number of countries in the world with government-imposed quarantine measures on arriving passengers.

“The region is effectively in complete lockdown with the travel and tourism sector shuttered. This is detrimental in a region where 8.6 million people depend on aviation for their livelihoods,” said IATA’s Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East, Muhammad Albakri.

IATA proposed a layering of measures to protect public health while re-starting aviation, focused in two areas: Reducing the risk of imported cases via travelers.

It also discouraged symptomatic passengers from traveling with airlines offering flexibility to passengers who need to adjust their schedule.

It, however, called for public health risk mitigation measures such as health screening by governments in the form of health declarations, adding that COVID-19 testing for travelers from countries perceived to be “higher-risk” when accurate and fast testing should be available at scale.

“Implementing a layered approach should give governments the confidence to open borders without quarantine, and passengers the confidence to fly. Air connectivity is critical to economic and sustainable development in and across AME,” said Albakri.