The World Health Organization (WHO) has updated its recommendations to state that travel bans “do not add value”.
Earlier this week, the WHO’s emergency committee changed its guidelines on tactics when responding to the Covid-19 pandemic following the Omicron variant, which quickly spread around the world. .
Given the variant’s rapid spread despite numerous border closures and restrictions imposed last fall, the committee has recommended that foreign travel bans be eased or lifted.
“Lift or relax international travel bans as they do not add value and continue to contribute to the economic and social stress suffered by States Parties,” reads the amended opinion.
“The failure of travel restrictions introduced after the detection and notification of the Omicron variant to limit the 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 a financial burden on international travellers”.
Several countries have already eased restrictions on international arrivals in recent weeks.
Austria will remove its “virus variant list” – which currently subjects Britons to additional travel restrictions – from Monday January 24, the tourism board has announced.
The UK has been on the list since December 25, along with countries like Denmark and the Netherlands.
From Monday, UK travelers who have had two or three shots will be able to enter without quarantine – those who have only had two shots will need to present a negative PCR test result within the last 72 hours.
Switzerland is set to drop its pre-travel PCR test requirement this Saturday, January 22.
Fully vaccinated visitors and those who can prove recent recovery from Covid can visit without pre-travel testing.