WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States, state governments and several foreign countries must replace quarantine and travel bans on airline passengers with COVID-19 testing of travelers before departure and after arrival, airlines and business groups said on Thursday.
They said the move would boost US international air travel, which was down 78% year-on-year for the past seven-day period, according to airline industry data.
The group, which includes the International Air Transport Association, Airlines for America, the US Chamber of Commerce, the airline union, and the US Travel Association, called on the Trump administration, state governors, and international partners “to pursue a risk-based and data-driven approach to testing for COVID-19 which will eliminate the need for quarantines and travel bans so that the travel network can be safely reopened. “
The group added that “travel quarantines are destroying our industry”.
Currently, 18 US states have some type of quarantine for arriving travelers, the group said. Hawaii last week began allowing airline passengers who tested negative for COVID-19 to avoid the mandatory two-week quarantine upon arrival.
The United States still imposes entry bans on almost all non-US citizens currently in China, Great Britain, Ireland, Brazil, Iran and countries in the so-called Schengen border-free area of Europe.
Nearly all of Europe still bans most US travelers, while the UK allows Americans to visit but requires a two week quarantine on arrival.
“Continued restrictions on international travel and different state and international quarantine policies are hindering the recovery of the US economy,” the letter added.
The Trump administration has held high-level discussions with countries including the UK, Germany, Japan, Canada and Italy about the possibility of forming a “flight bubble” that would allow travel or reduce quarantine if passengers agree to a COVID-19 test prior to departure and on arrival.
On discussion is whether quarantine is still needed, with some health experts in the Trump administration calling for a one-week quarantine, and what tests to use. The rise of coronavirus infections in some countries, such as the United States, is an obstacle to lifting restrictions.
Reporting by David Shepardson; Edited by Cynthia Osterman