Uncoordinated Border Management Approaches Taken during COVID-19 Pandemic Demonstrate Need for a Clear, Agreed Approach to Risk Analysis
WASHINGTON — The adoption of travel measures by nearly all governments globally to control the spread of COVID-19, including use of everything from screening and quarantine to immunity certification and restrictions on entry, was poorly coordinated across countries. Particularly in the early stages of the crisis, this created chaos for travelers and the travel sector, and caused significant economic and social harms.
While there is substantial evidence that early and stringent use of these travel measures by some countries during the initial stages of the pandemic slowed the importation of the virus and reduced its onward transmission, there is also growing recognition of weaknesses in the quality of the risk analysis available to inform policy decisions.
A new Migration Policy Institute (MPI) International Program report presents a comparative analysis of 11 publicly available methodologies used to assess travel-related risks during the pandemic—those of Hong Kong, New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan, United Kingdom, United States, International Civil Aviation Organization, International Air Transport Association, World Health Organization, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the European Union.
The report, Using Risk Analysis to Shape Border Management: A Review of Approaches during the COVID-19 Pandemic, offers lessons learned and recommendations, including a proposed decision instrument that could improve the use of risk analysis for border management during future public-health emergencies.
Evaluating the appropriateness of travel measures and applying them effectively during future public-health emergencies will depend on international consensus on methodologies that lead to a more harmonized and coordinated approach and to greater public trust in policy decisions, write researchers Kelley Lee, Julianne Piper and Jennifer Fang of Simon Fraser University's Pacific Institute on Pathogens, Pandemics and Society (PIPPS).
The report notes that data are not currently collected and shared across jurisdictions in agreed and standardized ways that would facilitate systematic and coordinated travel-related risk analysis. Nor have governments and international organizations clearly communicated to the public the rationale for travel restrictions, the evidence underpinning their decision-making and the role of these measures in pandemic response strategies.
A clear and agreed framework for risk analysis would allow governments to assess emerging threats posed by spreading pathogens in real time, and then support decision-making on whether, what and how travel measures should be implemented, the PIPPS researchers write.
“By integrating evolving scientific evidence about an emerging disease event with transparent policymaking, an agreed travel-related risk analysis framework can support border management that is more consistent, coherent and harmonized within and across jurisdictions,” the authors conclude.
This report is the third in a series from MPI’s Task Force on Mobility and Borders During and After COVID-19, which is seeking to improve international coordination over border management during and after the pandemic. The first report examined the implications of the increasing use of digital health credentials for mobility, and offered key principles that should underpin long-term planning around their utilization. The second looked at remote work trends accelerated by the pandemic, challenges digital nomads and employers face when navigating immigration systems and opportunities to adapt immigration policies to keep pace with changes in the world of work.
Read the latest report here: www.migrationpolicy.org/research/risk-analysis-border-covid19.
For all MPI analysis, data and commentary on the pandemic, visit: www.migrationpolicy.org/topics/coronavirus.
And to sign up for updates on future work on COVID-19, click here.