EASA and ECDC Recommend Exempting Travelers on Trips Less Than 72 Hours from Quarantine

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) have joined forces to call for an exemption from quarantine protocol for people traveling for 72 hours or less, according to an announcement published by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).

In addition, EASA and ECDC are calling for an end to part of the risk classification of certain groups, which automatically classifies travelers as having a high-risk of spreading COVID-19.

The recommendations from EASA and ECDC are due to the reduced likelihood of travelers having COVID-19 in the first place, but also the short 72-hour span of their trips means limited contact with the local populations.

The EASA and ECDC recommendations also provide guidance to follow local social distancing rules at all times, but not to quarantine upon arrival or be subjected to a COVID-19 test unless the traveler is showing symptoms of the virus.

The WTTC is reporting that this could be the beginning of a revival in the international business travel market and would also provide a large and much-needed economic boost.

“EASA and ECDC have joined forces to call for an exemption on quarantine for people travelling for less than 72 hours, a move which WTTC believes could signal the return of international business travel and provide a significant economic boost,” the announcement reads.

As 2020 has progressed, WTTC reports that shutdowns and quarantines have caused “untold damage” to the travel and tourism sector.

According to the WTTC announcement, inbound international business travel accounted for €99.8 billion across Europe in 2019 alone.

“The revival of international business travel is crucial to kickstarting the global economic recovery, as last year, inbound international business travel across Europe accounted for US$111.3 billion (€99.8 billion), whilst globally it accounted for more than US$272 billion,” said Gloria Guevara, President and CEO of WTTC.

In addition, the travel and tourism sector in Europe accounts for 1 in 10 jobs in 2019, and in the same year contributed 10.3% to the overall Gross Domestic Product (GDP) across Europe.

“These measures will help ensure the long-term resuscitation of the global Travel & Tourism sector, which, according to WTTC’s 2020 Economic Impact Report, during 2019, was responsible for one in 10 jobs (330 million total), and made a 10.3% contribution to global GDP and generated one in four of all new jobs,” Guevara said.

This sector accounting for such a large sum of money, employee base, and contribution to overall European GDP means that the overall European economy is very reliant on the sector, and the businesses within the sector are reliant on business travel, which could be partially revived if business travelers were exempted from quarantines.

“The EASA/ECDC proposed guidelines to exempt passengers from quarantines for travel of 72 hours or less would be a significant step in the direction towards the wholesale revival of business travel. Airlines, hotels and a vast infrastructure of businesses within the global Travel & Tourism sector, all heavily rely upon business travel. The loss of international business travel leaves airlines especially exposed, particularly on highly competitive short-haul and transatlantic routes, which depend upon them for the bulk of their profits,” Guevara said.

At the time of writing this article, no Member States have announced that they will be following the new EASA and ECDC recommendations.

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