The latest data collected by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) shows that more than 20 countries, including Germany, have now wholly or partially lifted restrictions for vaccinated travellers.
According to IATA, the German government made its decision following scientific advice by the world-renowned Robert Koch Institute (RKI) which concluded that vaccinated travellers do not pose a major risk to the German population and noted that vaccinations reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission to levels below the risk from a false negative rapid antigen test. This aligns Germany with recommendations from both the European Commission and the European Parliament.
IATA says it supports unrestricted access to travel for vaccinated travellers and where vaccination is not possible, access to quarantine-free travel should be provided through testing passengers free of charge.
Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General noted that 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 a safe opening of borders to international travel. “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 enables the freedom to travel without quarantine. Germany and at least 20 other countries have already taken an important step forward in re-opening their borders to vaccinated travellers. These are the best practice examples for others to quickly follow.”
Digital solutions key
Due to the increasing numbers of countries now accepting vaccinated travellers without quarantine measures, there is now also more need for digital solutions to manage vaccine certificates and COVID-19 test results, with IATA saying that paper-based processes could lead to extremely long processing times at check-in and border control. They are also more susceptible to fraud.
The results of a recent poll IATA conducted shows strong support for a digital solution to manage travel health credentials efficiently and securely, with 89% of respondents supporting globally standardised COVID-19 test or vaccination certifications and 84% wanting 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.
Willie Walsh, IATA Director General