Severity: Warning Alert

Exit/Entry: Southeast Asian countries continue to enforce travel restrictions as of Sept. 1 due to COVID-19 activity. Additional measures are possible.

Alert Begins 01 Sep 2020 11:52 AM UTC
Alert Expires 15 Sep 2020 11:59 PM UTC

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Southeast Asia (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Travel and business disruptions

Countries in Southeast Asia continue to enforce travel restrictions and enhanced health screenings to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The measures vary across the region. The following restrictions are in effect as of Sept. 1:


  • Brunei: Authorities continue to ban most foreigners, including long-term pass holders, from entering or transiting the country. Foreigners with essential or business needs can transit Brunei by land, provided they comply with certain protocols, such as limits on the time allowed to cross the country. Foreigners whose work relates to the national interest, such as those in the oil and gas sector or transport of essential goods, can also enter the country. Officials require inbound foreign workers in the oil and gas industry to undergo COVID-19 tests before entry and upon arrival in the country. Such persons must take the pre-trip test within 48 hours before departing for Brunei. Existing travel, student, and dependent visas remain suspended. Arrivals must undergo a 14-day quarantine at designated facilities, with limited exceptions. Bruneian and Singaporean officials have agreed to start accepting applications for crossborder travel for business and official purposes from Sept. 1 in a so-called Reciprocal Green Lane scheme. For people traveling from Singapore to Brunei, protocols include applying for a travel pass and controlled itinerary for the first 14 days in Brunei, remaining in Singapore for 14 days prior to travel, testing negative for COVID-19 before travel and upon arrival in Brunei, and adhering 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.


  • Cambodia: Issuance of tourist visas and e-visas, visa-on-arrival services, and visa exemption remain suspended. Most foreign visitors must obtain a visa from Cambodian diplomatic missions and provide proof of medical insurance in a coverage amount of at least USD 50,000, as well as a medical certificate from local health authorities stating they have not tested positive for COVID-19. Incoming passengers have to test for COVID-19. With limited exceptions, travelers who test positive - along with all other passengers on the same flight - must quarantine at government-designated facilities for 14 days, while other travelers can self-isolate at their accommodation for two weeks. Inbound foreign nationals must pay a USD 2,000 deposit to cover the costs, including USD 100 for the COVID-19 testing and USD 30 for a certificate stating they do not carry the virus, with limited exceptions. Diplomatic and official visa holders, including international organization officials, must obtain a document stating they are free from COVID-19 within 72 hours before traveling to Cambodia. Authorities will bear the test costs of diplomatic and official visa holders; however, embassies or international organizations will have to cover expenses for their personnel who test positive. Foreign business travelers to enter the country are exempt from the two-week self-isolation requirement, though they must still isolate at designated facilities for several days upon arrival in Cambodia while waiting for COVID-19 test results. Additionally, these visitors may still have to quarantine for 14 days if any passenger on their Cambodia-bound flight tests positive for COVID-19. Business travelers must adhere to other protocols, including obtaining sponsorship from a local company. Officials have suspended flights from Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Most border checkpoints remain closed. Officials have allowed cross-border travel with Vietnam for non-tourism purposes to resume; travelers will have to adhere to relevant health protocols.


  • Indonesia: The government continues to ban foreigners from entering or transiting the country, with exemptions for permanent residents, diplomats, and transport workers, among others. Authorities have postponed plans to allow foreign tourists to enter Bali; officials said the entry restrictions would remain in place in Bali and the rest of Indonesia through at least December. Officials require inbound passengers to produce documents stating they are free from COVID-19; travelers without such documentation must undergo tests upon arrival in Indonesia and be isolated in a government-designated facility until test results are released. Arrivals must also download the PeduliLindungi contact tracing application. Inbound travelers who show COVID-19 symptoms will undergo quarantine at government-designated premises. Authorities are advising all incoming passengers to self-quarantine for two weeks. Officials are also requiring individuals leaving Indonesia to produce certificates that they do not carry COVID-19. The government has sometimes provided conflicting information about COVID-19 restrictions in recent weeks; changes to measures may occur at short notice.


  • Laos: Inbound travel restrictions are in effect through at least Sept. 30. Most inbound travel remains banned, with exceptions for resident diplomats and essential workers, among others. Issuance of tourist visas, visas-on-arrival, and visa exemptions remain suspended. People wishing to enter Laos must test negative for COVID-19 at a medical institution in their country of origin within 72 hours before the trip. Officials require symptomatic arrivals to undergo tests and quarantine at selected hospitals. Other incoming passengers are required to isolate for two weeks at government-designated facilities; authorities may allow diplomats, employees of international organizations, and their family members to self-quarantine at their residences.


  • Malaysia: Most foreigners are still unable to enter the country; exemptions are in place for resident diplomats, foreign spouses, and dependents of Malaysian citizens, long-term pass holders, and expatriate employees working in essential industries and their dependents, among others. Officials announced Sept. 1 that starting from Sept. 7, long-term pass holders from India, Indonesia, and the Philippines will no longer be able to enter Malaysia; authorities attributed the policy to increasing COVID-19 activity in the three countries. Travelers who can enter Malaysia must test for COVID-19 upon arrival. Those who test positive will undergo treatment at medical facilities, while those who test negative will undergo quarantine for 14 days at designated facilities. Travelers must also download the MySejahtera mobile app. Foreigners may transit at Malaysian airports as long as they do not pass through the immigration points. Limited cross-border travel with Singapore for business and work purposes restarted Aug. 17. Those planning single-entry trips under the reciprocal green lane (RGL) scheme must present approval letters from immigration authorities and a company or government agency in the destination country, as well as any required visas, and undergo COVID-19 swab testing within 72 hours before the travel date and upon arrival. Such travelers must also adhere to certain protocols, including a pre-approved itinerary for 14 days. Passengers undertaking multiple-entry visits under the periodic commuting arrangement (PCA) program will serve quarantine at designated facilities for at least seven days. Malaysian nationals remain banned from traveling abroad. Foreigners based in Malaysia who travel overseas are prohibited from re-entering the country until further notice.


  • Myanmar: Myanmar's government has extended the ban on most international flights through at least Sept. 30; relief and cargo flights can continue operating. Authorities may also allow special flights to transport citizens to and from Myanmar on a case-by-case basis. Most foreign nationals remain banned from entering the country, with limited exceptions for diplomatic personnel. Visa-on-arrival and e-visa issuance for tourism purposes remain suspended. Returning Myanmar nationals must undergo a 21-day quarantine at government-designated sites, followed by one week of self-isolation. Authorities had also announced that resident diplomats and UN officials might undergo quarantine at their residence for two weeks. Additionally, authorities are allowing business trips for essential sectors, such as oil and gas and power, from mainland China and Japan in a so-called fast lane arrangement. Personnel will have to obtain a medical document stating they do not carry COVID-19 within 36 hours of boarding Myanmar-bound flights. The passengers will also have to undergo COVID-19 tests upon arriving in Myanmar and after completing five days of quarantine at designated facilities. The government has restricted cross-border movements at land checkpoints, allowing only the transport of goods.


  • Philippines: Authorities continue to suspend visa-free privileges and most previously issued visas, with exceptions for long-term visa holders, foreign spouses and children of Philippine citizens, and diplomatic staff and dependents. The long-term visa holders must adhere to several protocols, including having prebooked a quarantine facility and a COVID-19 testing provider in the Philippines. Officials stated they would not accept new visa applications. Arriving travelers must undergo a two-week quarantine at a government-designated facility. The central government reimposed a ban on nonessential outbound travel July 23; people who had confirmed their overseas travel booking as of July 20 are allowed to depart. Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and uniformed personnel on official duty can continue traveling overseas.


  • Singapore: Authorities continue to ban the entry of short-term visa holders, with limited exceptions. Arrivals have to undergo 14 days of quarantine at government-designated facilities, with limited exceptions. Singaporean and Bruneian officials have agreed to start accepting applications for crossborder travel for business and official purposes from Sept. 1 in a so-called Reciprocal Green Lane scheme. For people traveling from Brunei to Singapore, protocols include applying for a travel pass and controlled itinerary for the first 14 days in Singapore, remaining in Brunei for 14 days prior to travel, testing negative for COVID-19 before travel and upon arrival in Singapore, and adhering to the controlled itinerary and contact tracing measures. Travelers who continuously spent the previous 14 days in Australia (except Victoria State), mainland China, Macau, Taiwan, and Vietnam can serve their stay-at-home notice (SHN) in their residences; except for children below 12, the arrivals must use electronic monitoring devices to ensure they remain inside their residences. Since Aug. 29, arrivals who have been to South Korea within the last two weeks have to serve their SHN at government-designated facilities. Additionally, starting from Sept. 1, travelers from Australia (excluding Victoria State), mainland China, Macau, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Vietnam can serve a reduced SHN period of seven days. Officials plan to allow entry of travelers who have resided in Brunei or New Zealand for 14 days before travel to Singapore from Sept. 8; such individuals will not need to serve SHN. Except for returning Singapore citizens, permanent residents, and long-term pass holders, travelers coming from Brunei and New Zealand will have to apply for an Air Travel Pass seven to 30 days before travel; the application process begins Sept. 1. The passengers will have to undergo a COVID-19 test upon arrival in Singapore; officials will allow the individuals to participate in regular activities upon producing a negative result. Limited cross-border travel with Malaysia for business and work purposes restarted Aug. 17 under the reciprocal green lane (RGL) and the periodic commuting arrangement (PCA) programs for short-visit and long-term travelers, respectively. Travelers under the RGL scheme must obtain sponsorship by a Singaporean host company or government agency, test for COVID-19 upon arrival, and remain at their accommodations until the test returns negative; travelers under RGL scheme can stay in Singapore for up to two weeks. The PCA scheme is limited to long-term pass holders intending to stay in Singapore for at least 90 days and whose employers must submit applications on their behalf; these travelers must remain at the quarantine venue for at least seven days or until they test negative for COVID-19, whichever is later. Inbound travelers must take a COVID-19 test at their own expense near the end of their mandatory 14-day quarantine periods, with limited exemptions. Authorities are allowing business trips to and from select parts of mainland China, including Guangdong, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang provinces and Chongqing, Shanghai, and Tianjin municipalities. While the business travelers from mainland China are exempt from the two-week quarantine requirement upon arrival in Singapore, they must test for COVID-19 again and self-isolate in their accommodations until test results are available. Officials are allowing foreign nationals flying with Singapore Airlines (SQ), Scoot (TR), and Silk Air (MI) from select cities to transit via Singapore Changi Airport (SIN). Passenger transit at SIN remains banned for flights to the affected cities. The government is advising residents to avoid most nonessential international travel.


  • Thailand: Foreigners remain barred from entering Thailand, with exemptions in place for some categories of foreigners. These include spouses, parents, and children of Thai citizens; resident diplomats; people seeking medical treatment and their attendees; students of Thai educational institutions; transport workers; permanent residents and work permit holders with their spouses and children; foreigners with special arrangements, such as the Thailand Elite Card, a program for frequent business visitors; and migrant workers whose employers have obtained approval for the employees' entry. These foreigners must adhere to health protocols, such as two weeks of quarantine at designated facilities. Authorities continue to international inbound flights until further notice, though repatriation flights may occur on a case-by-case basis. The government has reopened some border checkpoints for the transport of goods and traders; foreign tourists remain banned from entering Thailand through border checkpoints. Officials have approved visa extensions through Sept. 26 for foreigners already in Thailand. Authorities said they plan to allow tourists to enter Phuket again from October. The government has sometimes provided conflicting information about COVID-19 restrictions in recent weeks; changes to measures may occur at short notice.


  • Timor-Leste: The country's borders remain closed to foreigners, with limited exceptions. Authorities have previously allowed entry for permanent residents of Timor-Leste, foreigners born in the country, and people working at oil rigs, among others. People who can enter the country must undergo a 14-day quarantine at government-designated facilities. International passenger flights remain suspended, except for medical evacuation, humanitarian, and governmental flights.


  • Vietnam: Vietnamese authorities continue to bar entry for foreign nationals with limited exceptions, even though officials have started to reissue electronic visas to foreign nationals from 80 locations. These locations include Australia, mainland China, India, Japan, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Korea, the UK, and the US. Foreigners who can still enter Vietnam include essential and skilled workers. Individuals who can enter the country will quarantine for 14 days at government-run facilities; officials announced that arrivals have to pay for isolation costs starting from Sept. 1. Authorities have approved visa extensions through Sept. 30 for foreigners in Vietnam. Inbound flights to Vietnam remain operational, except to Da Nang; officials have suspended all flights, including international flights, to and from Da Nang after confirming new community transmission cases.


Governments could expand their response in the coming weeks, particularly if COVID-19 activity increases in-country. 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.

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. 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.

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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