There have been extensive travel restrictions in place across Europe over the last two years, ranging from mandatory quarantines to pre-departure testing and on-arrival testing. Despite these travel restrictions, Europe has experienced significant waves of COVID-19.
While the current wave of infections associated with the Omicron variant is subsiding in most European countries, new Variants of Concern (VOCs) are likely to continue to emerge. However, nearly two years on from the start of the pandemic, there is a question about whether implementing travel restrictions to protect domestic populations against COVID-19 is a useful and proportionate approach.
Indeed, analysis shows that travel restrictions have failed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.¹ The International Health Regulation Emergency Committee of the World Health Organisation (WHO) also recently highlighted the failure of travel restrictions to limit the importation of VOCs.²
As we look to a world where COVID-19 is endemic, it is relevant to consider the role of air passenger travel restrictions in limiting the importation of COVID-19, particularly as a result of new VOCs.