This article was published before we became the Chartered Institute of Export & International Trade on 10 July 2024, and this is reflected in references to our old brand and name. For more information about us becoming Chartered, visit our dedicated webpage on the change here.


Global transport organisations have warned governments against making ‘knee jerk reactions’ to the Omicron Covid variant for fear that this will adversely impact supply chains and transport workers.

A joint statement called on governments learn from the last two years and “not reimpose border restrictions that further limit the freedom of movement of international transport workers”.

Workers, such as maritime staff and flight crews, have previously found themselves stranded far away from home due to lockdown restrictions and many were not able to access vaccines.

Around 60 nations have reimposed varying degrees of travel restrictions in the wake of the discovery of the Omicron strain of coronavirus, reports Splash 247.

Decisive approach

Rather than adopt a rushed and fragmented approach to travel rules, governments should take “decisive and coordinated action to ease strain on the supply chain, and support an exhausted global transport workforce during the busy holiday season,” the statement seen by Lloyds Loading List said.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the International Road Transport Union (IRU), and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) said that government risked “reneging on clear steps issued to world leaders in September” to ease the plight of workers.

Global Cold Chain News reports that a crisis meeting between the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) was scheduled to discuss recommendations made by the statement and the impact that travel bans and other restrictions would have.

China impact

CNBC reports comments from Per Hong, senior partner at consulting firm Kearney, who predicts that “China is expected to double down on its zero-Covid policy”.

This could result in knock on effects in shipping constraints and “more shortages of key manufacturing components and extended order backlogs for core electronic, automotive and consumer products”.

US labour shortages

US commerce secretary Gina Raimondo has also raised the prospect of further labour shortages as the Omicron variant becomes more prevalent.

Raimondo told CNN that past outbreaks had shown that disruption occurred when people were too scared to go to work.

“In manufacturing facilities, people work in person, close together. And there have been outbreaks. We’ve had problems in places where people work close,” she said, calling on more Americans to get vaccinated.