E.g., 04/21/2024
E.g., 04/21/2024
Lessons from COVID-19: Managing Borders in the Next Global Public-Health Crisis

In March 2020, the global mobility system shut down in previously unimaginable ways. As COVID-19 cases multiplied, governments closed borders and introduced sweeping travel restrictions, entry bans, and suspensions of asylum and refugee resettlement. These policies evolved over time, giving rise to a complex web of mobility restrictions, conditions, and exemptions for certain groups, with undeniable consequences for societies and economies around the world.

Four years on, migration has returned to the pre-pandemic norm, but governments should not forget the costs of unplanned, long-lasting, and stringent travel restrictions. This is a key moment to examine the pandemic’s lingering impacts on mobility as well as to build a bench of evidence-based tools to manage mobility during future public-health crises. This brief highlights the importance of mobility measures that are clear, equitable, streamlined, and prepared to adapt to future challenges.

This capstone brief concludes a series of studies by MPI’s Task Force on Mobility and Borders during and after COVID-19 that explores opportunities to improve international coordination regarding border management during public-health crises. Regional case studies in this series look at Asia and the Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, and South America. Its thematic studies consider the role of digital health credentials in facilitating movement, the use of risk analysis to shape border policies, and the rise of remote work and “digital nomads.”

Table of Contents 

1  Introduction

2  COVID-19 and the Mobility Shutdown

3  Lessons for Policymakers
A. Restricting Travel during Public-Health Emergencies
B. Mitigating the Risks and Costs of Travel Measures
C. Preparing for Future Emergencies

4  Conclusion