The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) says it supports the European Commission’s efforts to coordinate Europe’s reopening and the guidelines it published late last week on how to safely resume travel to the Schengen Area. Despite the recommendation to gradually start reopening external borders as of July 1, the travel sector, according to GBTA, fears that European Union (EU) countries may continue to act unilaterally, leading to the patchwork of rules and confusion already being experienced this month.
“Global travel will be the driving force of the post-COVID recovery. It will allow individuals to reconnect, place skills where they are most needed, boost employment and help resurrect the economies in the EU and across the world,” says Scott Solombrino, GBTA’s CEO.
GBTA, which represents over 9,000 small and large corporations, has been conducting regular polls with its members since the beginning of the crisis to better understand what will build companies’ confidence to resume business travel. The latest poll shows that more than half of companies are considering allowing their employees to travel again in the near future.
Health and safety guidelines throughout all travel sectors are a key part of that process. Airlines and airports are also pledged to uphold the strictest disinfection standards: Aircraft will be sanitized before every flight and all passengers will be required to wear face masks.
In addition to the health and safety protocols developed by the transport and travel sector, the business travel community also expects prompt initiatives by governments to reopen borders in a safe and coordinated way, as recommended by the European Commission. Blanket quarantine rules, such as the one imposed by the British government, are at this time disproportionate and unenforceable, according to the GBTA, adding it “will deliver a killer blow to a travel sector, which is struggling for survival.” Alternative measures, such as tests and temperature checks at the country of origin and upon arrival, are much more favorable among those in the travel industry.
Lastly, once safety protocols are in place, it is important that the EU reopens its internal and external borders as soon as possible, as the epidemiological situation begins to resemble a stable, downward trend in many regions and countries.