More than a year in, Covid travel is a disaster but it doesn’t ...

World

More than a year in, Covid travel is a disaster but it doesn’t have to be

Draconian restrictions on international movement are failing to deliver benefits that warrant the costs

Lionel Laurent and Sam Fazeli

The surreal nature of international travel in the Covid era was beamed live around the world last weekend. In the opening minutes of a World Cup qualifier in Sao Paulo between Brazil and Argentina, play ground to a halt when public-health officials walked onto the field to remove four Argentine players over an apparent breach of a 14-day quarantine (mandatory for travel via the UK). The game never resumed.

Eighteen months into the pandemic, travel restrictions are still tripping up regular families and firms, not just footballers. A US ban on most travellers from two dozen European countries, instituted by Donald Trump in March of last year, remains in place despite a change of president and a higher proportion of people in the EU and UK being fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong residents returning home from places including the US and France must spend 21 days in hotel quarantine even if they’re vaccinated, and the city bars entry to most other people. Australia’s borders are closed, with most international travel banned...

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