Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Brunei to further ease domestic COVID-19 controls from July 27. Travel restrictions remain in effect.

  • Alert Begins: 23 Jul 2020 09:04 AM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 21 Aug 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Entry bans, quarantine measures, business restrictions

Summary
Authorities in Brunei plan to further ease domestic restrictions from July 27 amid reduced coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity. Officials intend to allow arcade shops and playgrounds to reopen at 30 percent of the normal capacity. Trade fairs can take place with protocols, such as requiring workers to wear facemasks, spacing booths at least three meters apart, and banning entry for people showing flu-like symptoms. Food establishments, markets, educational institutions, tuition centers, driving schools, music schools, and sports facilities will be able to operate with full capacity. Activities outside classrooms, including morning assemblies and curriculum activities, will remain suspended at educational institutions. Cinemas, swimming pools, and elderly activity centers will be able to operate at 60 percent capacity, while child care centers, internet cafes, galleries, libraries, and museums will be allowed to conduct activities with 90 percent of the capacity.

Officials also plan to increase the limit for mass gatherings to 100 people from July 27. Authorities intend to allow religious sites to operate with full capacity for people above the age of 12 from Aug. 3. Booking for slots in Friday prayers at Muslim facilities will no longer be compulsory.

Business owners and customers have to download the BruHealth contact tracing 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.

Travel Restrictions

Most foreign nationals, including long-term pass holders, remain banned from entering or transiting Brunei. Foreigners with essential or business needs can transit through Brunei by land, with protocols in place. Measures include limiting the duration of the travel 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. In addition, foreigners whose work relates to matters of national interest, such as the oil and gas sector and transport of essential goods, can also enter the country. Officials are requiring inbound foreign workers in the oil and gas industry to undergo COVID-19 tests before entering and upon arrival in the country. The employees will need to take the pre-trip test within 48 hours before departing for Brunei. Existing travel, student, and dependent visas remain suspended. Arrivals will undergo a 14-day quarantine at designated facilities.

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 to 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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