The International Air Transport Association (IATA), the Latin American and Caribbean Air Transport Association (ALTA), the Airports Council International Latin America and the Caribbean (ACI-LAC) and the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO) are calling for all remaining travel related COVID restrictions currently in place across Latin American and the Caribbean to be lifted. These include testing requirements, proof of vaccination, Passenger Locator Forms (PLF) and proof of COVID insurance, as well as dropping mask-wearing for travel within or between countries where these are no longer required in other indoor environments.
COVID-19, and specifically the Omicron variant, is now pervasive throughout all of Latin America and the Caribbean, and population immunity is at such levels that the risk of hospitalization or death has dramatically reduced, especially for vaccinated people. States are adopting surveillance strategies to ensure public health, in the same way as they do for other coronaviruses and infectious diseases.
Many Latin American and Caribbean countries have lifted domestic COVID restrictions, such as the need to provide health credentials to enter social events, or the requirement to wear masks in public spaces. Contact tracing efforts are also being stood down, rendering PLFs for international travel redundant. As these countries open up and remove restrictions, it is only logical to remove similar restrictions from air transport.
It has been proven that those countries without testing requirements are the ones where air transport is recovering faster. Over the last month a number of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have removed all testing requirements and even proof of vaccination but these still remain in the great majority of countries in the region.
Aviation is essential for the social and economic development of Latin American and Caribbean countries, and we can only expect a full recovery of aviation and all the industries that depend on it if COVID related restrictions and requirements are removed.