Airline, airport groups slam EU push for pre-flight COVID testing from China

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LONDON, Jan 5 (Reuters) – A coalition of airline and airport groups on Thursday criticized new recommendations asking for passengers flying from China to the European Union to show a negative COVID-19 test prior to boarding.

EU government officials made the recommendation on Wednesday as Beijing plans to ease travel restrictions despite a wave of new COVID infections.

The International Air Transport Association, Airlines for Europe and ACI Europe in a joint statement said that “the current surge of COVID-19 cases in China is not expected to impact the epidemiological situation in the EU/EEA (European Economic Area)” and ran counter to an earlier assessment by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

The ECDC last week said EU citizens had relatively high vaccination levels and the potential for imported infections was low compared to daily infections in the EU, with healthcare systems currently coping.

China plans to ease travel restrictions on Sunday despite a wave of new infections that has left Chinese hospitals and funeral homes overwhelmed.

Sweden and Germany on Thursday said they would implement the recommendations and more countries in the bloc are expected to do so soon.

“While it is regrettable that the recommendations agreed yesterday largely amount to a knee-jerk reaction, it is now vital that they are implemented by EU member states in a fully uniform manner,” the groups added in the statement.

The groups said they hoped the EU would reassess the recommendations by mid-January. 

(Reporting by Joanna Plucinska; Additional reporting by Jan Strupczewski; Editing by Mark Porter)

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