Severity: Critical Alert
Exit/Entry: Brunei to further ease domestic COVID-19 controls from July 4. Travel restrictions remain in effect.
- Alert Begins: 02 Jul 2020 09:00 AM UTC
- Alert Expires: 30 Jul 2020 11:59 PM UTC
- Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
- Location(s): Nationwide (map)
- Time Frame: Indefinite
- Impact: Entry bans, quarantine measures, business restrictions
Authorities in Brunei plan to further ease domestic restrictions amid reduced coronavirus disease (COVID-19) activity. Officials intend to allow cinemas and swimming pools to restart operations from July 6 with safeguards, such as limiting the facilities to 30 percent of the capacity and banning children below 15 years of age. The government is also relaxing distancing restrictions for some public facilities that have previously reopened. Public and private schools will be able to conduct lessons for more cohorts from July 4, while music schools and tuition centers can increase the size of sessions from five to 10 people. Most eating establishments can serve dine-in customers at 80 percent of the seating capacity from July 6, while open-air stalls may operate with full seating capacity. Mosques and other religious facilities will be able to host more activities, including classes, with precautions in place. Safeguards include requiring visitors to use the BruHealth contact tracing application and limiting entry to men above 15 years old. Mass gatherings can take place with a maximum of 50 people from July 6.
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. Some public places, including arcade facilities and indoor playgrounds, remain closed. Officials could reintroduce or expand restrictions in the coming weeks.
Most foreign nationals, including long-term pass holders, remain banned from entering or transiting Brunei. Only foreigners whose work relates to matters of national interest, such as the oil and gas sector and transport of essential goods, can 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.
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.