WHO says countries should ‘lift or ease international traffic bans as they do not provide added value’
Earlier this week, the WHO’s Emergency Committee changed its guidance on tactics when responding to the Covid-19 pandemic in the wake of the Omicron variant, which has quickly spread around the globe.
Bearing in mind the rapid spread of the variant despite numerous border closures and restrictions imposed in autumn last year, the committee recommended that international travel bans should be eased or lifted.
“Lift or ease international traffic bans as they do not provide added value and continue to contribute to the economic and social stress experienced by States Parties,” reads the modified advice.
“The failure of travel restrictions introduced after the detection and reporting of Omicron variant to limit international spread of Omicron demonstrates the ineffectiveness of such measures over time.”
The committee went on to say that travel measures such as masking, testing, quarantines and vaccination should be “based on risk assessments and avoid placing the financial burden on international travellers”.
Several countries have already eased restrictions on international arrivals in recent weeks.
Austria will scrap its “virus variant list” – which currently subjects Britons to extra travel restrictions – from Monday 24 January, the tourist board has announced.
The UK has been on the list since 25 December, along with countries including Denmark and the Netherlands.
From Monday, UK travellers who have had either two or three vaccine jabs will be able to enter without quarantine – those who have only had two jabs will need to present a negative PCR test result from within the past 72 hours.
Switzerland is set to drop its requirement for a pre-travel PCR test this Saturday, 22 January.
Fully vaccinated visitors and those who can prove recent recovery from Covid may visit without a pre-travel test.