COVID-19 and the State of Global Mobility in 2021
After the COVID-19 pandemic’s unprecedented shock to mobility in 2020, many people hoped that 2021 would bring a return to prepandemic cross-border movement. These hopes were bolstered by the rollout of highly effective vaccines, innovation around the use of digital health credentials to facilitate travel, increasing regional and international coordination, and the phased lifting of travel restrictions. Yet efforts to open up were not straightforward, and as of the end of 2021, more than 100,000 travel-related measures remained in place, and movement across borders remained costly, complex, and less accessible to some groups than others.
This report, which results from collaboration between the International Organization for Migration and MPI, analyzes the changing use and implications of travel measures and border closures worldwide and in different regions in 2021. The study examines the impacts of these measures on mobility systems and different groups of people on the move, including labor migrants and business travelers, tourists, refugees and asylum seekers, and irregular migrants. It also considers the role of international coordination in the design and implementation of travel measures and the use of digital health credentials.
Much is still uncertain regarding the future trajectory of the pandemic. The report concludes with recommendations and key questions the world will need to grapple with in 2022 and beyond. It explores strategies for advancing mobility rules that are clear, equitable, streamlined, and future focused, and what it will take to create a stronger global architecture for mobility and health.
2 The Story of Mobility 2021
A. Travel Measures and the Pandemic Response
B. Regional Trends
C. Responses to New Variants
3 Impact on Migration and Mobility
A. Regular Movement
B. Irregular Movement
C. Increasing Inequalities in Mobility and the Pandemic Response
4 Shifting Policy Goals and Risk Tolerance
A. Metrics to Assess Risk and Set Policy
B. Changing Risk Tolerance
5 Regional and International Coordination
A. Regional Cooperation
B. Vaccines and Boosters