World leaders have agreed a series of new measures aimed at safely reviving international travel after the Covid pandemic.
They decided on seven principles to build a lasting recovery.
The agreement was made at a UK-hosted meeting of G7 transport and health ministers.
The UK’s Department for Transport said Britain acknowledged the global leadership the G7 has shown in reducing the barriers to travel for each other’s citizens, “which has been vital in allowing families and friends to reunite and businesses to get moving again, particularly regarding the crucial role and success of vaccinations and testing”.
The UK is eager to promote global standards on Covid certification for travel purposes, such as the EU Digital Covid Certificate, and the ICAO visible digital seal (VdS) standard.
Concerns were also raised about ensuring that participants in vaccine clinical trials are not disadvantaged given the low public health risk they pose and the vital importance of continuing work to develop effective vaccines.
The group also agreed to focus on improving data protection in vaccine certification developments, as well as prioritising the decarbonisation of transport.
The seven measures are:
· Futureproofing the transportation sector against health threats
· Ensuring the fair treatment and safety of essential transport personnel
· Respecting privacy and data protection in introducing vaccination certification solutions
· Reaffirming the pre-eminence of scientific evidence in planning international travel policy
· Ensuring fairness and equity in respective national responses
· Maintaining regular international and multilateral engagement
· Delivering a safe, sustainable and resilient recovery
The UK recently simplified its travel rules, ditching the red, amber, green lists in favour of one list of countries where special measures are in place.
Grant Shapps, UK Transport Secretary, said: “We are determined to get people travelling abroad as freely and safely as possible and the progress made today between all G7 nations is testament to this vision.
“By sharing information, working together on common standards and solutions for vaccine certification, and keeping a focus on a sustainable recovery for our travel sector, we will build a resilient and long-lasting recovery now and for generations to come.”
Lord Kamall, UK Health Minister, said that global co-operation on healthcare was crucial.
He praised volunteers who stepped forward to help break new medical and scientific boundaries by taking part in clinical trials.
The seven measures
G7 members should share plans for the resumption of international travel, to spot common ground, encourage discussions, and to maximise consistency.
It should align with the decisions of the World Health Organisation, International Maritime Organisation and International Civil Aviation Organisation.
Scientific evidence should be at the heart of any decisions, and particular attention should be paid to responding to the emergence of new Covid-19 variants of concern
Fairness and equity
Countries at different stages of vaccine programmes or with different technological capabilities should not be disadvantaged.
Regarding proof of vaccination status, as well as proof of testing results, countries should accept both digital and non-digital means of demonstrating compliance. Public health measures such as testing, including certification for negative tests, and self-isolation or quarantine should continue to be considered alongside vaccinations as risk mitigation measures.
The G7 should consider the possibility that future infectious disease threats may require the need to pivot swiftly, or bring in new rules as quickly as possible. It should review and respond fast to control and restart international travel as safely, sustainably, and quickly as possible, learning from Covid-19.
Fair treatment of essential transport personnel
Public health standards should be applied in a pragmatic manner to protect crew health and alleviate unnecessary burdens and barriers to their work, including through exemptions, to avoid impacts on critical continued aviation, maritime and land transport operations.
Privacy and data protection
Privacy and data protection elements are critically important in the design of any digital solution for proof of vaccination and testing status.
Consistent with the goal of net zero emissions for economies by 2050, G7 countries should take a comprehensive approach to accelerate the decarbonisation of transport, enabling economies to ‘build back better’ from the COVID-19 pandemic.
This will require the uptake of cleaner technologies in land, air and maritime transport, such as zero emission vehicles and sustainable fuels, as well as to favour demand shifts towards more sustainable transport modes, including public transport, shared mobility, cycling and walking.