Pressure to replace quarantine with testing

Strasbourg, France - Jan 28, 2014: All EU members flags in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France (Strasbourg, France - Jan 28, 2014: All EU members flags in front of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, ASCII, 114 components

To encourage EU travel before COVID-19 vaccines are widely available, the European Travel Commission (ETC) is urging EU governments to follow EASA and ECDC guidelines and to lift quarantines. The guidelines state that people travelling should not automatically be considered as high-risk for spreading infection, but should rather be treated in the same way as the local population who have not had any direct contact to a person infected with COVID-19.

The ETC has welcomed the new Guidelines for COVID-19 testing and quarantine of air travellers from the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which provide a clear pathway for EU governments to make informed decisions on travel measures.

Based on the latest scientific evidence and information, the guidelines state that the prevalence of COVID-19 among travellers is lower than is the case for the general population. It states that quarantine or systematic testing for SARS-CoV-2 of air travellers is not recommended.

Key conclusions from the guidelines include:

  • Air travellers account for less than 1% of all detected COVID-19 cases and do not increase the rate of COVID-19 transmission.
  • ECDC and EASA recommend harmonisation among EU countries based on the specific measures presented in the guidelines.
  • EU countries should always admit their own nationals and EU citizens and their family members resident in their territory and should allow swift transit through their territories.

The ETC has consistently called for a common and risk-based approach to restarting European tourism in a safe manner, given the vital importance of tourism to economic recovery.

These new recommendations provide a solid basis for European governments to begin implementing coordinated safety measures to allow travel before COVID-19 vaccines are widely available.

Luís Araújo of ETC stated: “The importance of restarting mobility in Europe cannot be understated in terms of the recovery of tourism and the wider European economy.”

According to ETC’s latest report ‘ Monitoring Sentiment for Domestic and Intra-European Travel: Wave 2’ Europeans maintain a robust desire to travel, with 54% saying they will take a trip in the next six months. Concerns over quarantine restrictions persist as a major deterrent for travel in Europe.

ETC guidelines argue that 14-day quarantines are only effective in an exceptional situation.

ETC calls on European governments to immediately abolish current blanket restrictions and replace them with comprehensive cost-efficient measures such a common passenger locator forum, rapid testing upon departure and coordinated tracing systems.