The International Travel Restrictions Make Little Sense

Wednesday - 04/08/2021 10:14
Few leaders seem concerned about what we might lose by being cut off from one another.

By Thomas Wright

About the author: Thomas Wright is a contributing writer at The Atlantic, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and the co-author, with Colin Kahl, of Aftershocks: Pandemic Politics and the End of the Old International Order, which will be published by St. Martin’s Press in August.

If you’ve traveled internationally this summer and have had to navigate a labyrinth of COVID-19 tests, quarantines, health-authorization forms, and scarce flights to get there, you are one of the lucky ones. Many people have been unable to travel at all.

Few would argue that governments ought to fully reopen travel now, especially with the threat of the Delta variant. But the haphazard, unilateral way that countries have designed, imposed, and upheld travel restrictions—often because they are an easier option than taking action at home to stop the virus—should concern everyone. COVID-19 may never really go away, and large parts of the world could remain unvaccinated for years. Leaders must recognize the danger inherent in unending COVID-19 travel restrictions and put in place a process to eventually lift them completely. Right now, though, few seem concerned about what we might lose by being cut off from one another.

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 Keywords: COVID-19

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