Airline association Iata denounced quarantine restrictions as a “lop-sided” approach to Covid-19 infection risks, warning it will “keep many people unemployed”.

Iata called for governments to drop quarantine measures in favour of “a layered approach” to protecting air passengers.

The association advocates health screening at airports, testing before departure for travellers from ‘higher risk’ countries, and contact tracing in destinations on arrival.

Alexandre de Juniac, Iata director general, said: “Imposing quarantine measures on arriving travellers keeps countries in isolation and travel and tourism in lockdown.

“Safely restarting the economy is a priority. Quarantine measures may play a role in keeping people safe, but they will also keep many unemployed.”

He said: “Quarantine is a lop-sided solution. Fortunately, there are policy alternatives that can reduce the risk of importing Covid-19 infections while allowing the resumption of travel.”

Iata proposes a layered “framework” of measures, beginning with “discouraging symptomatic passengers from travelling” by airlines making it easy to change bookings.

It advocates health screening by governments, including passenger health declarations, and says temperature checks “can play a role” as a deterrent to people travelling when unwell despite being ineffective as a screening method.

Iata suggests Covid-19 tests for travellers from ‘higher-risk’ countries should be required prior to arrival at departure airports once tests become “widely available and highly accurate”.

It notes test data would need to be documented, validated and recognised by governments, but suggests excluding tests for antibodies.

The association said contact tracing would also be important to reduce the risk of transmission by travellers.

Iata called for universal implementation of International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) guidelines on Covid-19 safety in air travel and welcomed World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Safe Travel protocols as “a pragmatic approach for the hospitality sector to enable safe tourism and restore traveller confidence”.

De Juniac said: “Health declarations, screening and testing by governments will add extra layers of protection, and if someone travels while infected, we can reduce the risk of transmission.”