Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: South Korea requiring all arriving passengers to quarantine as of April 2. Mandatory testing for arrivals implemented in Seoul, other areas.

This alert affects South Korea

This alert began 02 Apr 2020 16:04 GMT and is scheduled to expire 15 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Preventative restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Travel disruptions, immigration delays, supply chain disruptions

As of April 2, South Korean officials are requiring inbound passengers, regardless of nationality, to undergo self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival to contain the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Foreigners who do not have a place of residence in the country are quarantined at government facilities at their own expense. Additionally, from April 2, authorities in Seoul are requiring all inbound international passengers who intend to stay in the city to undergo COVID-19 tests upon arrival. Travelers with COVID-19 symptoms are tested immediately, while officials have arranged buses to transport other passengers from Incheon International Airport (ICN) to designated testing facilities in Seoul. Similar mandatory testing protocols for international arrivals have been implemented in Daejon and Gwangju; any passengers arriving in South Korea from abroad in the coming weeks are likely to undergo mandatory screenings upon arrival.

Authorities are maintaining the alert level for COVID-19 at red, the highest level, empowering the government to implement movement restrictions, cancel school, and alter public transport services, among other measures. South Korean officials have not announced any domestic travel restrictions as of April 2; however, officials have issued measures for social distancing, including limitations on religious gatherings, indoor sporting events, and entertainment venues. The government has encouraged work-from-home arrangements and arranged online classes for students. Local leaders in Seoul have banned gatherings at Gwanghwamun Square, Seoul Plaza, and Cheonggye Plaza. Daegu leaders have limited public meetings and encouraged residents to stay at home.

Several major industrial plants have closed in South Korea after employees tested positive for COVID-19. Many industries have also been impacted by supply chain problems arising from disruptions in China. Widespread and prolonged supply chain disruptions are possible. Officials have also suspended leave for military personnel, sleeping off base, and visitor meetings at installations nationwide. US Forces Korea has declared a state of emergency but continues to implement the same restrictions, including a ban on nonessential travel to Daegu and a stop for personnel slated to arrive in or depart South Korea. Major joint exercises between South Korean and US forces remain suspended.

International Travel Restrictions

The government continues to ban all foreign travelers who have visited China's Hubei Province within 14 days of arrival from entering the country. Officials have revoked visas and suspended visa-free entry for Japanese citizens. Authorities have also halted visa-free travel for Chinese nationals to Jeju Island. The government continues to ban cruise ships from docking at ports in the country, including in Jeju. Airlines have suspended routes and reduced flights amid decreased demand.

More than 150 countries are enforcing travel bans or requiring quarantines for passengers from South Korea. Several governments have issued travel advisories for South Korea due to the increase in COVID-19 cases. As of April 2, the US has maintained its warning on South Korea at Level Three (Reconsider Travel), the second-highest alert level in a four-tiered ranking system. Governments could impose or alter restrictions on travelers from South Korea in the coming days and possibly weeks.

Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. 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.

Emphasize 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.

Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Ministry of Health and Welfare: