Following the relaxation of China’s zero-Covid policies, the caseload in the country started rising again. As a result, fearing the spread of the virus, several countries are now imposing testing requirements, either pre-departure, or on arrival, for travellers coming from China.
On 29 December 2022, the EU Health Security Committee had an emergency meeting to assess the need of imposing the Covid-19 testing requirement bloc-wide, but the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) deemed the measure unnecessary, calling “screenings and travel measures on travellers from China unjustified”. Regardless of this announcement, Member States like France and Italy still imposed testing requirements on China arrivals, along with other countries around the world.
Clearly we still have to learn the painful lessons of the past years. These travel restrictions do not work and current arrangements for EU coordination have failed once again.Olivier Jankovec, Director General of ACI EUROPE
The Airports Council International Europe (ACI Europe) has expressed regret regarding the actions of a number of States within the EU and globally for unilaterally imposing health-related travel requirements including systematic pre-departure or on-arrival testing of travellers from China.
Testing travellers from China and/or imposing other restrictions for travellers from this country is neither scientifically justified nor risk based, ACI Europe stressed in a statement, pointing to ECDC decision. “These unilateral actions are at odds with all the experience and evidence gained over the past 3 years”, the organisation said, adding that the ineffectiveness of international travel restrictions in preventing the spread of Covid-19 and its multiple Variants of Concern (VOCs) has been unequivocally recognised by both the ECDC and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
We are once again plunging back into a patchwork of unjustified and uncoordinated travel restrictions, which have no basis in scientific fact.Olivier Jankovec, Director General of ACI EUROPE
As States need to remain vigilant to the status and control of the virus, ACI highlighted the focus should rather be on increasing genomic sequencing to be able to identify possible new Covid-19 variants and related surveillance. Such an approach, as urged by EU Health Commissioner Kyriakides in a letter sent earlier this week to Member States, does not require the testing of travellers but can be achieved by means such as the testing of wastewater from airports.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has also called on governments to learn from the lessons and experience of the last three years, saying that “travel restrictions or testing requirements have been ineffective throughout the pandemic”.