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G7 ministers set to meet on reopening international travel amid COVID-19

Published: Updated:

Transport and health ministers of the G7 countries are due to meet virtually on Thursday to discuss ways to restart international travel, according to people familiar with the matter.

The meeting is being organized by the UK, which holds the presidency of the Group of Seven nations this year, said the people, who asked not to be identified ahead of any official statement.

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While the gathering is aimed at moving closer to a consensus on how to ease border restrictions, major decisions on travel have been made at the highest levels of most governments, for example at the White House, not the Transportation Department, in the US.

While some countries, notably members of the European Union, have used so-called vaccine passports to successfully resume cross-border travel, others including the US have held back on implementing app-based technology over concerns ranging from politics to privacy or fairness between people who have and haven’t received the shots. Another sticking point has been whether to recognize vaccines in countries where they haven’t been approved.

Even as countries start to reopen borders, the easings have been piecemeal, frustrating airlines and travel companies hard-hit by the collapse in tourism brought on by the coronavirus. A high-level consensus by the G7 could provide a template for common rules across the globe and spur consumer confidence in international travel rules.

Rising vaccination levels have spurred some countries to start opening up. The UK is due to ease coronavirus testing requirements for fully vaccinated people arriving in England early next month.

The US announced Sept. 20 that it would soon allow entry of foreign air travelers starting in “early November, ending a ban on most visitors from Europe that had stood since mid-2020. Details such as which vaccines would be recognized and the start date haven’t been announced.

The US and UK moves have sparked a rally in aviation stocks and a jump in bookings for trans-Atlantic flights.

Read more:

US to end COVID-19 travel ban on vaccinated passengers from Nov

Heathrow tells UK to change COVID travel rules as passenger slump continues

Britain mulls easing COVID-19 travel rules for UK