COVID-19 and Travel Restrictions
22 Pages Posted: 26 Jun 2020 Last revised: 9 Jul 2020
Date Written: June 23, 2020
The strict controls that many jurisdictions, including most U.S. states, established to contain the COVID-19 pandemic have proven difficult to sustain over time, and most places are moving to lift them. Internationally, many plans to ease lockdowns have retained some form of travel restrictions, including the “green zone” plans adopted by France and Spain, which limited travel between regions with widespread community transmission of COVID-19 and those without it. By contrast, most U.S. states lifting shelter-in-place orders have opted to remove limits on movement as well. This Article argues that this situation is unwise: It tends to create travel patterns that increase the spread of COVID-19 while hindering contact tracing and information gathering. While broad quarantines have a complicated and far from perfect record in the United States, more targeted and/or voluntary measures are likely within states’ constitutional powers to impose, might be more palatable to the public, and could play a significant role in helping to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Keywords: Covid-19, right to travel, public health law, quarantines
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