COVID-19 Pandemic: Is this the End of Global Mobility?

As a result of the current Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic which has affected over 210 countries and territories around the world, many governments have imposed travel restrictions and entry bans until the virus can be contained at a planetary level.


Travel Bans and Visa Revocations 

Many countries have issued travel bans and have even revoked existing visas to citizens and visitors of most affected countries, including China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, and France to avoid risk of exposure and spread of the highly contagious disease. Other countries who have not imposed any travel restriction have opted instead to place travellers in a 14-day quarantine, or require a 14-day self-isolation.

The current bans in effect are: 

  • China has been in quarantine for nearly three weeks, and has been subjected to strict travel bans from most of the world, including most of the Schengen area, Armenia, Australia, India, Iraq, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Maldives, Micronesia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Turkey, United States, Vietnam, Samoa, Russia, Czech Republic, and Italy. 
  • Italy is in emergency lockdown with a strict quarantine. Many countries have issued a travel ban on Italy, including India, El Salvador, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Israel.
  • Israel has also announced a worldwide ban, issuing a 14-day quarantine on all visitors and returning citizens. Although this time period has passed, the lockdown is still in motion.
  • United States of America declared a 30-day travel ban for foreign nationals from the European Union. The UK and Ireland are both omitted from the restrictions. 
  • Canada has banned entry of all non-citizens or permanent residents, excluding Americans until further notice.
  • Iran has travel bans from many countries, including Australia, Azerbaijan, Germany, India, Singapore, Sweden, and the United States. The country has not yet entered lockdown mode. 
  • India has also temporarily suspended all tourist visas in a bid to contain spread of novel coronavirus.

  • Armenia-Iran visa-free regime has been temporarily suspended.
  • Vietnam suspended the exemption of visas for citizens of Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Germany, France, Spain and the U.K.

  • Thailand cancelled visa on arrival for 18 countries including Bulgaria, Bhutan, China (including Taiwan), Cyprus, Ethiopia, Fiji, Georgia, India, Kazakhstan, Malta, Mexico, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, and Vanuatu. Visa exemption will be cancelled for South Korea, Italy and Hong Kong.

  • Aruba has closed their borders to passengers arriving from most of Asia and Europe, including those who have travelled to said countries within the past 14 days.
  • Australia requires all passengers to self-isolate for a period of 14 days from their arrival. Passengers who have visited China, Iran, South Korea, Italy, or the Diamond Princess within the last 14 days are not allowed to enter Australia.
  • Bahrain has suspended border crossing on the causeway, and has enforced a quarantine on all travellers and nationals who have visited China, or Europe in the last 14 days.
  • Cambodia’s borders are closed to all passengers who in the past 14 days have been to, or are originating from France, Germany, Italy, Spain or USA. This restriction applies for 30 days.
  • Colombia has closed its borders to all travellers, excluding nationals and those on a diplomatic mission.
  • Cyprus has closed its borders to all travellers, excluding nationals and those on a diplomatic mission. Additionally, nationals and residents of Cyprus must have a certificate of health stating they are free from COVID-19 issued within a maximum of 4 days before departure. They will be quarantined for 14 days.
  • New Zealand announced tight border control measures on March 14 that include requiring all incoming travellers, including its own citizens, to self-isolate for two weeks.
  • Ecuador has announced that no one, including citizens and residents, will be allowed to enter the country for the next 21 days.
  • India has  invalidated all tourist visa and e-visas. All passengers must go thorough medical screening upon arrival.
  • Morocco has suspended all flights to Algeria, Belgium, China, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. The government also shut down the land borders with Ceuta and Melilla.
  • Amongst the countries that have closed their borders to all international travellers are: Denmark, Saudi Arabia, Ghana, Marshall Islands, Ukraine, El Salvador, Latvia, Poland, Spain, and Lithuania. 

Note: The current live time ranking does not take into account all the temporary bans given the volatility of the current global outbreak. Please contact your local authorities for specific details.


Flight Cancellations  

Despite several airlines operating a nearly empty aircraft or filled with cargo just to keep airport slots, there have been significant changes to flight itineraries in response to increasing travel bans. At least 73 airlines have cancelled flights to and from China. In addition: 

  • Air Canada: Suspended of all flights to and from Italy 
  • British Airways: Cancelled all of its flights to/from Italy
  • Alitalia: Suspended flights to and from all Milan and Venice airports 
  • EasyJet: In the process of cancelling all of its Italy flights until 3 April 
  • Ryanair: Scrapped all Italy flights from this Friday until 8 April 
  • Norwegian Air: Will cut 15% of its global schedule for a month 
  • American Airlines: Cutting 7.5% of its domestic flights in April 
  • American Airlines: Suspend all flights to South Korea 
  • Lufthansa Group: Cancel about 7,100 flights to the end of March, reduce capacity by 25%, and suspend flights to Tehran until April 30. 

For additional information on airline cancellation policies and refunds, see the master list of our friends at Forbes here. 

Most Affected Countries 

According to sources via Worldometer, which states that almost 2 million people have been infected by the Covid-19 virus, the following countries are the top 10 most affected in the world: 

  1. USA
  2. Spain
  3. Italy
  4. France
  5. Germany
  6. UK
  7. China
  8. Iran
  9. Turkey
  10. Belgium


Is Global Mobility under attack? 

The world is more mobile than ever, and times like these are yet another testament to that. Movement of people, ideas, and services have defined the 21st century, driving innovations and uniting populations. Despite increasing visa restrictions, the current pandemic does not define the end of globalization, but rather the start of responsible mobility.

The fact is, our world will become increasingly open and this outbreak has proven that the time has come to address adequate and responsible ways to optimize our mobility. With every global problem, comes a global solution. Travelling responsibly with the notion that our world is becoming a global village will ensure that every citizen adopts a sense of responsibility for the rest of the world. And most importantly, it is imperative to remember that in the face of adversity, humanity continuously becomes more resilient. 

“As we fight the virus, we cannot let fear go viral. Let’s overcome this common threat together,” – Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General.


World Openness Score 

Unfortunately, at any time of global panic and uncertainty, confidence in the market, government, and the state of our future does lie in jeopardy. Reflective of these turbulent times, both the stock market and the mobility market are plummeting. 

The last time stocks in the United States were in a bear market was during the height of the financial crisis, more than a decade ago. 

Similarly, for the first time in nearly a decade of monitoring the World Openness Score (how open the world is to one another regarding visa waivers), numbers are in the red. 

As opposed to a 5.7% increase in WOS in 2019, 8.2% in 2019, and 4.2% increase in 2016 — 2020 starts at a negative 0.5%. With 112 countries facing decreased WOS, mobility is at risk of being at its most volatile point in history. 


Is this a positive mark for successful containment of the Covid-19 disease sweeping our planet, or a cause for bigger concern in closing our world to responsible mobility? 

Let us know your thoughts below! 


Last updated on April 10, 2020

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