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Countries Continue to Weigh Border Restrictions and Re-openings

Eric House - Sep 22 2020
Published in: Public Policy
Since its initial outbreak, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a catastrophic event for everyone around the world. As the virus remains, so too do changes in various approaches to countries’ borders.

Since its initial outbreak, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a catastrophic event for everyone around the world. Over time, governments have differed in their approaches to containing the virus with varying restrictions and re-openings. While some parts of the world are enjoying eased restrictions regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, other countries remain restricted as governments attempt to mitigate the crisis further.

As of September, 93 countries have border closures. While down from a high of 165 countries in May, border closings remain relatively high and could increase again as some parts of the world move toward a colder fall and winter season. Asia and the Middle East remain the most restricted regions for travelers, at 61% and 62%, respectively.

In recent efforts Asia continues to safely re-open business travel. In July, it was reported that “travel bubbles” and “green lanes” for business travel were created between such countries as Singapore and Thailand. Beginning 18 September, Singapore opened another green lane for business travel with Japan. Despite these efforts, Singapore, with relatively relaxed business and immigration laws and a significant amount of expats and foreign visa holders, may soon exercise nativism - focusing on its own citizens according to the Washington Post.

Some parts of Europe have also extended their restrictions to travelers. For instance, Spain extended the closure of the Schengen’s external borders until 30 September due to the Coronavirus, banning citizens from 11 non-European countries including Australia, Canada, South Korea and China. This month, Denmark also advised its citizens and residents to avoid non-essential trips to Austria, Hungary, the Netherlands, Portugal and Switzerland due to an increase in COVID-19 cases.

While the U.S. government has eased international travel restrictions and testing, there remains a U.S.-Canada-Mexico border travel restriction that could either be lifted or once again extended in the next coming weeks, as 21 September marks the end of the most recent extension. This travel restriction does not apply to essential cross-border workers such as health care professionals, airline crews and truck drivers.

How This Impacts Mobility

The unpredictable nature of the Coronavirus means that individual country travel restrictions and re-openings are likely to be fluid as the situation develops. This unpredictability will continue to negatively impact businesses and their ability to move workers, an essential component to business recovery and the recovery of the global economy. Worldwide ERC® will continue to provide updates, and should any member have questions regarding border restrictions, please reach out to Vice President, Member Engagement and Public Policy Rebecca Peters, rpeters@worldwideerc.org.