As the travel industry braces for a second COVID-19 wave, GBTA, the Global Business Travel Association, calls for widening testing capabilities and requirements across the EU as a better alternative to blanket travel restrictions.
“Sudden and unilateral shifts in government response, such as imposition of quarantines or border closures, take a heavy toll on the travel industry, further impeding economic recovery and causing chaos for travellers,” says Dave Hilfman, new Executive Director of GBTA and airline industry veteran. “Increased testing is what we need to restart travel safely. It will restore confidence and revive travel demand whilst preventing new waves of infection. Borders cannot stay closed indefinitely, the economy needs trade to resume with people back to work and travelling.”
Airlines and airports have already pledged to uphold the strictest safety standards. Requiring travellers to present negative COVID-19 test results before boarding aircrafts would bring necessary additional certainty. However, this is only possible if Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) nasal swab tests, which detect COVID-19 infections caused by the novel coronavirus, are freely and widely available. The EU has a key role to play to encourage all its Member States to invest in the research, development, distribution, and capacity of COVID-19 testing.
Some EU governments have already announced that they will make COVID-19 testing obligatory for travellers from a definite number of countries. GBTA understands these unilateral decisions but believes a coordinated approach on testing at EU level is necessary.
“The European Commission should work with EU governments to unlock appropriate funding to expand testing capacity, improve the accuracy of data and speed of information sharing,” adds Hilfman. “This is a pre-requisite to resurrecting travel and accelerate Europe’s economic recovery.”