ETRC backs cross-sector calls for EU testing protocol to avoid quarantining

By Luke Barras-hill |

Replacing quarantine restrictions with a testing protocol is needed to protect the jobs of more than 27 million Europeans who work in travel and tourism, says the industry.

The European Travel Retail Confederation (ETRC) has joined more than 20 travel and tourism bodies and unions calling on the EU Commission to replace quarantine restrictions with an EU Testing Protocol for Travel.

An *open letter to EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen attracting 25 signatories representing more than 5,000 member companies and workers points to a ‘chaotic situation’ caused by diverging travel restrictions and a lack of direction.

While the letter acknowledges the proposed EU coordination framework for travel restrictions as a ‘much-needed step in the right direction’, the trade bodies highlighted Member States’ reservations in implementing the proposal, putting at risk the livelihoods of 27 million Europeans.

Nigel Keal, President, ETRC.

ETRC ‘FULLY BEHIND’ INDUSTRY

“We are therefore urging you to ensure that the Commission takes the lead in the development of an EU Testing Protocol for travel and its implementation to avoid quarantines and re-open borders,” read the letter.

“While some national lockdowns and travel restrictions remain lifted within national borders, cross-border travel within the EU/Schengen area continues to be treated differently and without adequate justification.

“Extreme travel restrictions – in particular quarantines – are anything but risk-based. They are not an effective way to fight the epidemic, and the ECDC formally advises States against such restrictions.”

The letter comes as the latest data from ACI Europe points to a continued decline in passenger traffic at Europe’s airports during the first two weeks of September – now standing at a loss of -73%. This is down from the sluggish ‘peak recovery level’ of -65% mid-August.

Reacting to the letter, ETRC President Nigel Keal said: “Recent decisions by governments across Europe have shown that the recovery of the travel and tourism sector is very fragile.

“We are extremely worried to see significant drops in passenger numbers in aviation and maritime transport traffic again. ETRC is fully behind this strong call from the leading European travel and tourism industry associations with a very simple message: The re-opening of borders and the re-establishment of the free movement of people in Europe is a prerequisite for the recovery of our industry.”

*The letter is signed by representatives from across the tourism and travel sector and their workers, including airlines, airports, railways, ground handlers, caterers, travel retailers, air navigation service providers, tour operators, hotels, restaurants, cafes, travel agents, road transport operators and logistics services, camp sites, holiday parks, taxi operators, tourism boards and authorities and all their associated supply chains.

To read the letter in full, click here.

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