Major airline groups call for end to coronavirus quarantines and travel bans

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States, state governments and some foreign countries should replace quarantines and travel bans of air passengers with COVID-19 testing of travelers before departure and upon arrival, said Thursday airlines and business groups.

FILE PHOTO: Passengers walk past artwork between terminals at IAH George Bush Intercontinental Airport amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Houston, Texas, United States July 21, 2020 . REUTERS / Adrees Latif / File photo

They said the move will boost international air travel to the United States, which is down 78% year-over-year for the latest seven-day period, according to airline industry data.

The groups, which include the International Air Transport Association, Airlines for America, the United States Chamber of Commerce, airline unions and the US Travel Association, called on the Trump administration, state governors and international partners “to pursue a risk-based and data-driven approach. COVID-19 testing-driven approach that would avoid the need for quarantines and travel bans so that the travel network can be safely reopened.

The groups added that “travel quarantines are decimating our industry.”

Currently, 18 US states have some type of quarantine for arriving travelers, the groups said. Hawaii began last week allowing airline passengers who tested negative for COVID-19 to avoid a mandatory two-week quarantine on arrival.

The United States has historically implemented entry bans for almost all non-US citizens who were recently in China, UK, Ireland, Brazil, Iran, and countries of the so-called zone without Schengen borders in Europe.

Almost all of Europe still bans most American travelers, while the UK allows Americans to visit but requires a two-week quarantine on arrival.

“Persistent restrictions on international travel and differing state and country quarantine policies are hampering the recovery of the US economy,” the letter added.

The Trump administration has had high-level discussions with countries like the UK, Germany, Japan, Canada, and Italy over the possibility of establishing “flight bubbles” that would allow travel or Would reduce quarantines if passengers accepted COVID-19 testing before departure and upon arrival.

Discussions revolve around whether a quarantine would still be necessary, with some health experts in the Trump administration calling for a one-week quarantine and what test would be used. Rising coronavirus infections in some countries, like the United States, are a barrier to lifting restrictions.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Edited by Cynthia Osterman

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