Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Brunei continues to ease COVID-19 controls, including quarantine rules for arrivals and gathering restrictions, as of Sept. 4.

Alert Begins 04 Sep 2020 05:52 AM UTC
Alert Expires 02 Oct 2020 11:59 PM UTC

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Entry bans, quarantine measures, business restrictions

Summary
Brunei continues to ease controls as of Sept. 4 amid reduced local coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity. Arrivals now face a quarantine period of between two and 14 days at government-designated facilities, depending on the risk level of the country of departure. Travelers can leave the isolation sites upon testing negative for COVID-19. Additionally, authorities would consider appeals from foreign nationals in special situations to enter the country; the circumstances include foreigners studying on scholarships or undergoing medical treatment in Brunei. Foreigners permitted entry in such cases must obtain a Bruneian citizen or entity as a guarantor. Officials are also relaxing domestic controls. Mass gatherings can involve up to 350 people from Sept. 7. Authorities also plan to allow recreational group sports activities from Sept. 7, as long as the number of participants is within the gathering rules. Elderly activity centers will be able to host activities at full capacity.

Food establishments, markets, educational institutions, tuition centers, childcare centers, driving schools, music schools, sports facilities, galleries, libraries, and museums can continue to operate with full capacity. Internet cafes, swimming pools, arcade shops, and playgrounds can open but with reduced capacity. Activities outside classrooms, including morning assemblies and curriculum activities, remain suspended at educational institutions. Religious sites can continue to operate with full capacity for people above the age of 12. Trade fairs can occur with protocols, such as requiring workers to wear masks, spacing booths at least three meters apart, and banning entry for people showing flu-like symptoms.

Business owners and customers have to download the BruHealth application. Individuals caught breaching regulations could face a BND 10,000 (USD 7,100) fine and six months' imprisonment. Officials could reintroduce or expand restrictions in the coming weeks if COVID-19 activity increases in-country.

Travel Restrictions
Most foreign nationals, including long-term pass holders, remain banned from entering or transiting Brunei. Exemptions include foreigners whose work relates to matters of national interest, such as the oil and gas sector and the transport of essential goods. People who can enter Brunei must undergo COVID-19 tests before traveling and upon arrival. Additionally, foreigners with essential or business needs can transit through Brunei by land, with protocols in place. Measures include limiting the travel duration through Brunei, such as one hour for those going from Labu to Ujong Jalan in eastern Brunei or three hours for people traveling from Kuala Lurah to Sungai Tujoh in western Brunei. Existing travel, student, and dependent visas remain suspended, with limited exceptions.

Bruneian and Singaporean officials are accepting applications for crossborder travel for business and official purposes since Sept. 1 in a so-called Reciprocal Green Lane scheme. For people traveling from Singapore to Brunei, a Bruneian host company or government agency must apply for the employee's travel pass and controlled itinerary for the first 14 days in Brunei. The travelers must have remained in Singapore for 14 days before travel, obtain a visa if applicable, purchase a return flight ticket, test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours before departure, and download the BruHealth contact tracing application. Upon arrival in Brunei, the employees must test for COVID-19, remain in their pre-approved accommodation place until the test returns negative, and adhere to the controlled itinerary and contact tracing measures.

Officials have barred local nationals, permanent residents, and foreigners holding Bruneian identification cards from leaving the country. Only people departing to seek medical treatment or resume studies overseas can leave the country after obtaining approval from the Prime Minister's Office. Outbound local citizens and permanent residents who require COVID-19 tests have to pay BND 100 (USD 72), while outbound foreign nationals will have to pay BND 200 (USD 144); authorities have exempted students, government employees on official duty, and people with permission from the Ministry of Health.

Background and Analysis
COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Follow all official instructions. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers. Plan for possible ground shipping and travel delays; seek alternative routes and shipping methods for time-sensitive cargo.

Exercise basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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