E.g., 11/28/2023
E.g., 11/28/2023
Future Scenarios for Global Mobility in the Shadow of Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an undeniable and wide-ranging impact on human mobility of all kinds—from travel for work or study to family reunification to refugee resettlement. More than 18 months since the first round of travel restrictions were introduced, it remains to be seen when and how fully these different forms of mobility will recover.

This report explores possible scenarios for what international mobility could look like in two to three years as an exercise to help national governments and international organizations think through the potential impacts of different policy choices and approaches to pandemic management. It also identifies critical questions to address in the coming months and years, such as: What tools should be used in conjunction with vaccines to safely reopen travel, given concerns that the uneven vaccine rollout will deepen existing inequalities in access to mobility? And how can countries better coordinate health screening requirements to minimize unnecessary duplication and costs to travelers?

Returning to the pre-pandemic status quo for travel and migration seems highly unlikely, and the structures that are being built now will shape mobility systems and responses to future disease outbreaks for years to come. A key priority, the author writes, should be to outgrow the current picture of fragmented, frequently shifting policies in favor of transparent, equitable, and risk-proportionate rules.

Table of Contents 

1  Introduction

2  Cross-Border Mobility in the First Year of the COVID-19 Pandemic
A. The Effects of the Pandemic on Different Kinds of Mobility
B. The Role of Mobility Restrictions in Managing the Pandemic
C. Good News on the Horizon, or More Bumps in the Road?

3  Scenarios for the Next Three Years
Scenario 1. Pandemic Proofing: A 9/11 Moment for Border Management and Health
Scenario 2. Mobility with Friends: Travel Bubbles and Regional Accords
Scenario 3. Chaos and Fragmentation
Scenario 4. A Return to the Pre-Pandemic Status Quo

4  Policy Considerations
A. What Wraparound Systems Need to Accompany Vaccines?
B. What Should the Interim System Look Like?
C. How Could Health Screening Be Better Coordinated?

5  Conclusion