With much of the region announcing its control over the transmission of the virus, Asia-Pac is set to continue to push forward with their easing of border restrictions through travel corridors and a strict application of track and trace technology to travellers and residents. It is likely that Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand will lead the way on the reopening of borders. China is implementing a controlled travel corridor with South Korea, and is also encouraging the return of work permit holders through foreign investment initiatives. Singapore has announced a very cautious, three phased approach to reopening the economy with the resumption of cross-border travel ‘green lane’ arrangements with a handful of countries.
Free movement across member states for EU nationals is expected to resume very shortly, with an easing of internal border checks and a focus on restarting the economy (in particular the tourism industry). Italy announced it will ease travel restrictions and drop quarantine measures this month and Austria simultaneously announced it would re-open its borders with the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. Germany, which entered recession last week, announced it too would open its borders with Denmark, France, Austria and Switzerland. Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia have created a ‘Baltic bubble’ opening their borders to each other.
As the true scale and impact of the pandemic across Africa has yet to be realised, with reports that infection figures are underreported, the easing of lockdown measures and travel restrictions across the continent are not expected to be announced any time soon. It will be crucial to understand how the pandemic will exacerbate risk and security issues, such as bribery, risk and corruption and the impact this will have on increased compliance measures for companies in the region, particularly in respect to hiring and sponsoring foreign talent. We continue to see strict lockdown measures and entry bans in Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Angola, Egypt, Morocco, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
With the global epicentre of the virus now firmly in the USA and Brazil, border closures and entry bans across the region are expected to remain in place for some time yet. The US Presidential Election is likely to keep the focus on efforts to restart the economy and ensuring immigration bans remain in place until the virus is under control. Following President Trump’s announcement to curb all immigration into the US (which was limited to Green Card applicants), the practical impact has been nominal, given that Immigration Consular Posts across the world had already suspended operations. Central and South America may well be the last region to emerge from the pandemic with border closures continuing for now, although Chile has started to resume immigration services and we anticipate the Caribbean will relax travel restrictions and quarantine measures more quickly due to it’s heavy reliance on the tourism industry.