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G7 nations urged to agree common international travel standards

Business federations from the G7 group of countries, including the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), have urged nations to apply “internationally-harmonised standards” to the resumption of travel.

It suggest the G7 countries mutually recognise Covid-19 tests and digital health credentials.

The G7 is an intergovernmental organisation of seven major economies, including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Its latest summit is due to take place in Cornwall next month, and UK transport secretary Grant Shapps chaired a virtual meeting last week.

In a communique ahead of the summit, the B7 group of business federations made recommendations on trade, vaccines, climate and international travel.

Referring to international travel, it said: “G7 governments need to enact clear, consistent and internationally-harmonised standards and procedures for restarting cross-border travel, using mutual recognition of Covid-19 tests and digital health credentials to enable a globally applicable solution.”

Airport Operators Association (AOA) chief executive Karen Dee said the federations had “made clear the importance of the G7 governments working together restart international travel”.

She said: “Currently the myriad travel restrictions, testing requirements and diverging approaches on vaccination certification across the globe are confusing for passengers and risk undermining demand for travel.

Dee said the AOA “welcomes the strong recommendations by the B7” and “will be working to ensure the UK Government plays its part”.

“In particular, the UK government needs to step up its work on improving the flow at the border by improving digitisation of test and vaccine certificates, improving the Passenger Locator Form and speeding up the planned upgrade to ePassport gates to enable faster processing of passengers,” she added.

Lobbying was also stepped up in Washington as 23 global travel companies urged the US president to speed up efforts to reopen international travel – starting with the UK.

A letter to Joe Biden warmed of “dire economic consequences” if US borders remain shut.

Efforts toward reopening should start by pursuing a “public health corridor” between the US and UK, given its importance as a travel market and its similar pace of vaccinations and declining infection rates.

The letter said: “Establishing a US-UK public health corridor would be a crucial step in our country’s recovery.

“A recent study found that restarting travel between the US and the UK could deliver over $4 billion in economic impact and support almost 300,000 jobs in the US over the next several months.”

The UK categorised the US in the amber middle tier of its new traffic light system for reopening international travel from May 17.

The US government should establish a public-private task force by the end of May to develop this roadmap using a risk-based data-driven approach to lift international entry restrictions from other countries.

The letter, signed by bosses of leading airlines, cruise companies and hotel groups, notes that current science, the success of the US vaccine rollout, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s own guidance allows for steps toward a safe resumption of international travel.

It said: “While US borders remain closed to much of the world, the remarkable scientific advancements to combat the Covid-19 pandemic and the tremendous vaccine deployment achieved by your administration have allowed the safe resumption of many activities.

“For all its economic and cultural contributions, international travel should be among them and it will hasten the economic recovery we all desire.”

The letter also urged Biden to use the G7 summit to seek commitments from other world leaders to develop and implement a global framework for reopening international travel.

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