Pre-COVID-19, we lived in a hyper-global world. There were 1.5 billion international tourism trips annually, nearly 40 million flights, and 272 million international migrants. This raises a provocative question: Does international mobility contribute to the spread of pandemics? In this episode, we speak with Michael Clemens and Thomas Ginn of the Center for Global Development. Drawing on their research of global pandemics dating as far back as 1889, they make the case that limits on cross-border mobility delay the arrival of pathogens by a matter of days at best. Instead, they argue that the greater success is achieved with domestic measures, not permanent limits on international mobility.
With news that viable COVID-19 vaccines are on the horizon, what might 2021 hold in store for the global movement of people, whether for tourism, business travel, or more enduring forms of migration? Alan Gamlen, associate professor of human geography at Monash University in Australia, tackles some of the big questions in this episode, including whether cities will be reshaped by immobility and if countries will need less labor migration. He paints a picture of a world with lower levels of mobility for the next few years, punctuated by periodic spikes.
The pandemic has been a huge shock to the international mobility system, from the chaotic way that countries closed their borders in March 2020, leaving countless travelers and migrants stranded, to the freezes imposed on visa processing, which halted much international migration. As the world reopens, how does global governance need to be improved to restart human mobility safely and securely? In this episode, we speak to Elizabeth Collett, Special Advisor to the International Organization for Migration’s Director General to get a global overview of what is happening with migration and mobility and discuss the challenges and opportunities the pandemic poses for global governance.
As COVID-19 chilled global mobility, harmed economies, and sparked border closures and travel bans around the world, the pandemic has had an effect on the shadow migration world. In this episode, we speak with Matt Herbert, an expert in irregular migration and human smuggling, about how the public-health crisis has scrambled the decision-making calculus for would-be migrants, pushing many into more dangerous routes. We also examine the business models of smugglers who facilitate many irregular movements.
Austria’s Vienna airport was an early adopter for in-airport COVID-19 tests, with results turned around within a few hours, sparing those with medical certificates from a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Can this serve as a model for restarting business travel and tourism? We talk to Vienna airport official Peter Kleemann to learn more.
Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, Australia has worked to develop a “biosecure” border, using hard travel lockdowns, internal borders, and quarantine to stem spread of the virus. Is it working? We talk to Brendan Dowling of the Australian Department of Home Affairs.