Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Countries and territories in Northeast Asia enforcing travel restrictions as of May 5 due to COVID-19 activity. Defer travel if affected.

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • China
  • Hong Kong SAR
  • Japan
  • Macau SAR / Zhuhai
  • Mongolia
  • North Korea
  • South Korea

This alert began 05 May 2020 09:25 GMT and is scheduled to expire 19 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Travel restrictions
  • Location(s): Northeast Asia (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Entry bans, transport disruptions, longer immigration wait times; possible quarantine

Governments in Northeast Asia continue to enforce travel restrictions to prevent the transmission of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Measures vary throughout the region; as of May 5, the following restrictions are in place:

  • Mainland China: Authorities continue to bar all foreign nationals from entering the country; exceptions are in place for diplomatic personnel and C visa holders, which officials generally issue to members of flight and shipping crews. Leaders have enhanced movement controls in border areas; most travelers, regardless of nationality, are barred from entering or exiting land border checkpoints.


  • Hong Kong: The government is maintaining a ban on all non-resident foreign nationals. Travelers from Macau, Taiwan, and mainland China are exempt from restrictions but will be barred if they have a recent travel history elsewhere. Arriving passengers from these areas, including Hong Kong residents, have to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon entry into the territory. Authorities continue to require all passengers from Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province, South Korea; Iran; and the Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy, and Veneto regions in Italy to quarantine for two weeks in government facilities. Hong Kong continues to restrict land border crossings with mainland China to the Shenzhen Bay checkpoint and along the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge.


  • Japan: Authorities expanded an entry ban to include foreign nationals from 14 countries, including Russia, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar, April 27. Entry restrictions remain in place for foreigners with a travel history to 75 countries and territories, including the US, Canada, the UK, Schengen Area countries, China, South Korea, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand, within 14 days of arrival. Officials also require all passengers arriving from these countries to undergo polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, which involves medical personnel taking a nasopharyngeal swab, upon arrival. Any inbound passenger allowed into Japan is required to undergo a 14-day quarantine period, either at home or in a government-designated facility.


  • Macau: Officials have banned nonresident foreign nationals from entering the territory. Travelers from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and mainland China - except Hubei Province - are exempt from the measure but will not be allowed to enter if they have traveled elsewhere in the previous two weeks. Residents and any allowed travelers that have visited "high-risk" countries, including the Schengen Area, the UK, the US, Canada, Brazil, Egypt, Australia, South Korea, Japan, Iran, and New Zealand, within 14 days of arrival, will face mandatory quarantine at designated hotels. Residents and travelers who visited Hong Kong, Taiwan, and other countries may be allowed to self-isolate at home.


  • Mongolia: The government has effectively banned international travel. The country closed its last open border crossing with Russia March 28. Commercial flights connecting Mongolia with Russia, Kazakhstan, China, Japan, South Korea, and Turkey remain suspended. International train services with Russia have stopped through at least April 30. Authorities are placing arriving Mongolian citizens who have recently traveled in China, Japan, South Korea, Italy, or Iran under a 14-day quarantine at their own expense.


  • North Korea: Authorities have effectively suspended inbound travel by foreign nationals. Officials are conducting increased health screenings and have imposed quarantine periods on foreign nationals, along with North Koreans arriving in Pyongyang.


  • South Korea: The government continues to ban all foreign travelers who have visited China's Hubei Province within 14 days of arrival from entering the country. South Koreans who traveled to Hubei Province will need to self-quarantine for 14 days. Officials have halted visa-free and visa-waiver programs with countries that have entry bans for South Korean citizens. The restriction impacts travelers from 90 countries, including Australia, Canada, and most European nations. Authorities have also canceled existing short-term visas issued before April 5, requiring travelers to reapply for entry documents. The government plans to limit all but essential or urgent travel for foreign nationals to the country. Officials are testing all arriving travelers from the US and Europe. Officials will send arriving passengers that exhibit COVID-19 symptoms to designated quarantine facilities for testing. All inbound passengers, regardless of nationality and testing outcomes, are required to self-quarantine for 14 days. Staff could send patients that test positive to designated quarantine facilities.

Governments could expand their response in the coming weeks, particularly if COVID-19 activity increases in-country or imported cases continue to rise. The measures may lead to immigration delays, especially for passengers from locations with significant numbers of COVID-19 cases. Government flight bans and airline flight reductions due to decreased demand are likely to continue in the near term. The operational status of flights can change without notice.

Postpone plans if affected by travel restrictions. Follow all official instructions. Allow additional time for immigration and health screenings. Consider delaying travel if experiencing symptoms associated with 2019 novel coronavirus, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays.

Exercise basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). 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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