Most of us didn’t really give much thought to our right to freedom of movement until coronavirus quarantines began.
Boston University Law Review explains, “The right to travel is different from the right to free speech, to bear arms, and to equal protection under the law. These enumerated rights have become culturally salient; nearly everyone confronts these rights daily and is reminded that certain constitutional protections follow wherever they go. […] The right to free movement differs because it seems so obvious that few would expect it ever to be challenged. […] Yet, one may value a right to free movement more highly when he or she is confronted with its denial.”
However, as history has shown and 2020 proved, our freedom of movement can be taken away from us – even if it seems unconstitutional.
Examples of Restricting Movement Today
According to a 2020 report by Pew Research Center, “At least nine-tenths (91%) of the world’s population, or 7.1 billion people, lives in countries with restrictions on people arriving from other countries who are neither citizens nor residents, such as tourists, business travelers and new immigrants. Roughly 3 billion people, or 39%, live in countries with borders completely closed to noncitizens and nonresidents.”
This was at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
One country stands out for how strictly its government restricted freedom of movement: China.
Health Affairs reports, “China locked down Wuhan and wider Hubei Province, confining about 60 million people, the largest cordon sanitaire (a guarded area where no one can enter or leave) in human history. Its draconian measures were medieval, but garnered praise from WHO.”
Chinese citizens were locally restricted from moving around their communities, with food delivered to their homes.
Similarly, Italy “locked down its northern region, including Milan and Venice, restricting movement of 16 million people (a quarter of its population).”
Unfortunately, with the new Omicron variant, travel bans are once again being implemented, and people’s freedom of movement is being restricted.
And then there’s Australia, which closed its borders and stopped most people from coming in or going out of the country. Melbourne, the country’s second-largest city, endured 262 days of lockdown restrictions during 6 separate lockdowns since March 2020 -- making it the longest cumulative lockdown for any city in the world.
At the time of publication, more than 30 countries have issued new travel bans and restrictions against those traveling from South Africa.
The strictest restrictions come from Japan, Israel and Morocco, which have implemented complete international travel bans (no entering the country).
Moreover, in addition to travel bans, citizens within their own countries are dealing with restricted movement due to vaccine mandates.
A December 2021 Newsweek article reports, “Germany has begun excluding citizens not vaccinated against COVID-19 from nonessential places across the country. [...] Unvaccinated people will no longer be permitted to enter nonessential stores, cultural and recreational venues.”
Essentially, Germany has banned unvaccinated citizens from everywhere except supermarkets and pharmacies.
What is happening in Germany is happening in the U.S., too.
On December 6, 2021, NYC Mayor de Blasio “issued a ‘preemptive strike,’ mandating that all private sector employees in the Big Apple be vaccinated against COVID-19 amid the new threat posed by the omicron variant beginning Dec. 27.”
However, the Key to NYC program does more than mandate vaccinations – it also requires proof of vaccination for indoor dining, fitness, and entertainment venues – even including the youngest group (5- to 11-year-olds) allowed to receive vaccinations.
According to Fox News, “Beginning Dec. 14, the program will require children aged 5-11 to show proof of one vaccination dose for those venues, and starting Dec. 27, New Yorkers aged 12 and older will be required to show proof of two vaccine doses, instead of one, except for those who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.”
Fox News continues, “De Blasio also announced 5-11-year-old children will be required to get vaccinated to participate in ‘high-risk extracurricular activities,’ including sports, band, orchestra, and dance. The requirement for the initial vaccine dose is set to take effect on Dec. 14.”
In other words, without proof of vaccination, people are facing severe restriction of movement.
It’s Not Just Epidemics
While it is easy to focus on this pandemic affecting our freedom of movement, it is important to understand that it’s not always public health emergencies that restrict movement.
There have been multiple times when states have issued travel bans barring citizens from traveling to other U.S. states.
During the 2017 transgender bathroom debate, states banned travel to states with policies they felt did not support LGBTQ people.
Travel Pulse reported, “California is adding to its list of states government employees can't travel to. Five more states have been added to the list, which now includes Florida, Montana, Arkansas, North Dakota and West Virginia bringing the total number of states to 17. California lawmakers banned nonessential travel to states that discriminate against LGBTQ people. Those states included Texas, Alabama, Idaho, Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee.”
California has also banned state-funded travel to states based on adoption laws.
The Constitution Ensures the Right to Travel But…
While we do have a right to the freedom of movement, each state has the ability to issue travel bans or quarantines.
Health Affairs explains, “Under our federalist constitutional system, primary public health powers (‘police powers’) reside with the states, not the national government. […] States have the primary quarantine authority, so any compulsory order would be a state or local decision.”
And this sort of local restriction of freedom of movement is what caused many problems in the past couple of years, such as the following examples from 2020:
- Florida, Rhode Island, and New Jersey implemented interstate travel restrictions, including stopping people from crossing borders into their states. However, they did not stop drivers passing through their states, only those coming for a visit.
- But, municipalities issued their own travel restrictions, such as Newark, New Jersey, turning around drivers crossing their town lines.
- The governor of Rhode Island wanted to stop cars with New York license plates at the border.
- Georgetown Law adds, “Governors in Hawaii, Alaska and Rhode Island also are attempting to order quarantine for any out of state arrivals. On the Outer Banks of North Carolina, residents of second homes are being turned away by county officials at roadblocks and told to return to their primary residence.”
States have issued movement restrictions in years past, as well.
According to The Telegraph, “During the 1918 flu pandemic, Gunnison County, Colorado, remained free from cases by erecting fences and barricades on main highways and placing signs encouraging motorists to drive through without stopping. Train stations were also closed.”
How To Prepare for Movement Restrictions
Unfortunately, the restriction to our freedom of movement is not likely to end once the pandemic subsides. That’s why it is important to prepare for the possibility today rather than being caught off-guard.
Here are some things you can do to prepare for restricted movement.
- Live Locally – Instead of traveling near and far, find everything you need within a set perimeter. Visit local farms and restaurants. Shop local businesses. Put down roots in your community.
- Build a Local Bartering Network – During the first quarantine, many Americans found themselves bartering goods and services (such as toilet paper). Instead of waiting for a reason to barter, go ahead and start building a local bartering network.
- Have a Local Communication System – Have tools to communicate with those nearby that go beyond online groups, such as radio systems.
- Stock Up on Supplies – Should you find yourself unable to move about freely, you’ll need to rely on the supplies you have on hand. That’s why it is important to stock up on long-term emergency food.
- Consider Relocating – Unfortunately, there are some states that are more likely than others to restrict the movement of their citizens. If you live in one of these states, it’s time to consider moving. Many self-reliant, pro-liberty, and pro-freedom families have made their way to states like New Hampshire, Florida, and Texas for this very reason.
- Act as a Gray Man – Let’s say you find yourself in a situation where your freedom of movement is suddenly strictly restricted. In order to get around or get out, you’ll need to know how to fly under the radar. Check out Why Becoming a Gray Man May Save Your Life to learn more.
- Remain Aware – Stay vigilant. Pay attention to the news cycle to have an idea about what may or may not be coming.
Keep moving, friends.
Preparedness Advisor, My Patriot Supply