The importance of human mobility for the spread of some communicable diseases has long been recognized. Cordons sanitaires, targeted or complete border closures, and screening and quarantine of travelers are the main tools used to manage spatial spread of infection. There is an epidemiological basis for limiting movement into and out of regions experiencing unusual disease activity, but the application of border control approaches has been met with varying levels of success in real-world outbreak settings. We have learned from past epidemics and pandemics that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to border management and mobility restrictions. The impact of various measures depends on the attributes of the pathogen, the robustness of disease surveillance systems, and the stage of the outbreak at which restrictions are implemented.