G-7 Ministers Agree to Work to Speed Long-Haul Travel Rebound
(Bloomberg) -- Transport and health ministers of the G-7 countries agreed to work toward common standards to accelerate a pickup in international travel as the aviation industry clamors for an end to a patchwork of rules and restrictions.
In a statement issued after a virtual meeting held Thursday, officials from the Group of Seven countries said they would align their policies around principles such as fairness, protecting privacy, and relying on scientific evidence when setting travel rules.
However, the meeting was short on concrete action. European officials pressed the U.S. to set a date to implement a planned lifting of a ban on most EU and U.K. citizens, according to a person who was briefed on the discussions. While U.S. representatives said they were working toward the first half of November, airlines, airports and governments need to plan for a possible upswing in traffic and the need for public education, the person said.
Airlines have been calling for a unified approach to global travel rules since the start of the coronavirus crisis.
Airlines for Europe, the industry lobby group, called on the G-7 to promote the EU’s approach using so-called vaccine passports as a global standard. Citizens within the bloc have been able to move across borders without Covid-19 tests since summer, if they can show they’ve been fully inoculated or have recovered from the disease. Travelers present a digital or paper-based bar code.
Other jurisdictions including the U.S. have held back on implementing app-based technology over concerns ranging from politics to privacy or fairness toward people who don’t have access to the shots. Another sticking point has been whether to recognize vaccines in countries where they haven’t been approved.
Recent developments tied to rising vaccination rates have generated some optimism for a reopening. The U.K. is due to ease coronavirus testing requirements for fully vaccinated people arriving in England early next month.
The U.S. announced Sept. 20 it would allow entry of foreign air travelers starting in “early November,” ending a ban on most visitors from Europe that had stood since mid-2020. Details such as the start date haven’t been announced.
While the U.S. has suggested it will recognize vaccines approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization, including the AstraZeneca Plc shot deployed widely in the EU and the U.K., the Biden administration hasn’t yet formalized the new regulations.
At Thursday’s meeting, hosted by U.K. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, the G-7 group also agreed to focus on improving data protection in vaccine certifications. The G-7 meeting sets the stage for further discussions at the upcoming International Civil Aviation Organization conference on Covid-19 next month.
Bloomberg News reported earlier on plans for the virtual meeting.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.