Severity: Warning Alert      

Exit/Entry: Southeast Asian countries continue to enforce travel restrictions as of July 28 due to COVID-19 activity. Additional measures are possible.

  • Alert Begins: 28 Jul 2020 09:31 AM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 11 Aug 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: Travel restrictions
  • Location(s): Southeast Asia (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Flight disruptions, longer immigration wait times, entry bans; possible quarantine measures

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 July 28:


  • Brunei: Authorities have banned most foreigners, including long-term pass holders, from entering or transiting the country. Foreigners with essential or business needs can transit through Brunei by land, with protocols in place. Measures include limiting the travel duration 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. Additionally, foreigners whose work relates to national interest, such as the oil and gas sector and 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. 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 resume studies overseas can leave the country, after obtaining approval from the Prime Minister's Office.


  • Cambodia: Officials have allowed cross-border travel with Vietnam for non-tourism purposes to resume; travelers will have to adhere to relevant health protocols. Issuance of tourist visas and e-visas, visa-on-arrival services, and visa exemption remain suspended. Foreign visitors will need to obtain a visa from Cambodian diplomatic missions and provide proof of medical insurance worth at least USD 50,000 and a medical certificate from local health authorities stating they have not tested positive for COVID-19. Officials will test all arriving passengers for COVID-19 and require all travelers to quarantine for 14 days if any passenger tests positive. Authorities will permit travelers who test negative to self-quarantine; inbound foreign nationals will have to pay a USD 3,000 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. Most border checkpoints remain closed. Officials plan to suspend flights from Indonesia and Malaysia from Aug. 1 due to recent increases in COVID-19 cases in the two countries.


  • Indonesia: The government has banned foreigners from entering or transiting the country. The restriction exempts permanent residents, diplomats, and transport workers. Officials require inbound passengers to produce documents stating they are free from COVID-19; travelers without the certificates will undergo tests upon arrival in Indonesia and be isolated in government-designated facilities until test results are released. Arrivals will also have to 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 July 31. 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 the country where they come from within 72 hours before the trip. Officials will 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 residence.


  • Malaysia: Officials require arrivals to undergo quarantine at designated facilities. These travelers will also have to download the MySejahtera mobile app. The government also plans to allow medical tourists from Australia, Brunei, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Korea to re-enter Malaysia, though it remains unclear when the measure will begin. Most foreigners are still unable to enter the country; exemptions are currently in place for resident diplomats, foreign spouses and dependents of Malaysian citizens, and expatriate employees working in essential industries and their dependents. Malaysian nationals remain banned from traveling abroad. Malaysian and Singaporean authorities plan to start receiving limited cross-border travel applications for some groups of people from Aug. 10. Foreigners based in Malaysia who travel overseas will not be allowed re-entry into the country until further notice.


  • Myanmar: Most international flights remain banned through at least July 31; relief and cargo flights can continue operating. 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. Foreigners entering the country for business purposes, such as construction projects, need to self-quarantine for seven days in the country of origin, before undergoing seven days of isolation at government-designated facilities and another seven days of self-quarantine at home upon arrival in Myanmar. Businesspeople also have to obtain a document stating they are free from COVID-19 before the trip. Authorities had also announced that resident diplomats and UN officials might undergo quarantine at their residence for two weeks. The government has restricted cross-border movements, allowing only the transport of goods.


  • Philippines: Authorities plan to allow long-term visa holders to re-enter the Philippines from Aug. 1. These travelers will need to adhere to several protocols, including having prebooked a quarantine facility and a COVID-19 testing provider in the Philippines. Other types of previously issued visas and visa-free privileges will remain suspended. Exemptions for foreign spouses and children of Philippine citizens and diplomatic staff and dependents will remain in place. Officials also said that they would not accept new visa applications. All arriving travelers will undergo a two-week quarantine at government-designated facilities. The central government reimposed a ban on nonessential outbound travel July 23. People who had confirmed their overseas travel booking as of July 20 will be allowed to depart. Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and uniformed personnel on official duty can continue traveling overseas.


  • Singapore: Authorities have banned the entry of short-term visa holders, with limited exceptions; the measure extends to work pass holders and their dependents, with exemptions for those providing essential services like healthcare and transport. All long-term visit pass and student pass holders will need to apply for government approval before traveling to Singapore. Officials require all arriving passengers to submit an online health declaration up to three days before entering the country. Inbound travelers must undergo and pay for a COVID-19 test near the end of their mandatory 14-day quarantine or stay-at-home periods, with limited exemptions. Travelers from most areas are required to undergo two-week quarantine at government-designated facilities at their own cost. However, arriving passengers who spent the previous 14 days continuously in specified countries and regions can self-quarantine in their residences; this measure will apply to travelers arriving from Australia (except Victoria State), Brunei, mainland China, Macau, New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Since July 20, people who had visited or transited through Hong Kong, Japan, and Victoria State in Australia in the last 14 days will have to stay at a designated facility for two weeks. The government is advising residents to avoid nonessential international travel. Authorities are allowing business trips to and from select parts of China, including Guangdong, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang provinces and Chongqing, Shanghai, and Tianjin municipalities; these business travelers will need to adhere to health protocols. While these travelers will not need to undergo two-week quarantine upon arrival in Singapore, they will be tested for COVID-19 again and must self-isolate in accommodations until test results are available. Officials are allowing foreign nationals flying with specific airlines from selected cities to transit at Singapore Changi Airport (SIN) with precautions in place. Only Singapore Airlines (SQ), Scoot (TR), and Silk Air (MI) are allowed to offer transit flights at Singapore Changi Airport (SIN); authorities are allowing transit flights from Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney in Australia; Chongqing, Guangzhou, and Shanghai in mainland China; Hong Kong; Osaka and Tokyo's Narita International Airport (NRT) in Japan; Seoul in South Korea; and Auckland and Christchurch in New Zealand. Passenger transit at SIN remains banned for flights to the affected cities. Singaporean and Malaysian authorities plan to receive cross-border travel applications for some groups of people from Aug. 10.


  • Thailand: Authorities have suspended international inbound flights until further notice, though repatriation flights may occur on a case-by-case basis. The government has reopened 37 border checkpoints for the transport of goods and traders; foreign tourists remain banned from entering Thailand through border checkpoints. Officials have approved visa extensions for foreigners already in Thailand through Sept. 26. Authorities have 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 facilities. International passenger flights remain suspended, except for medical evacuation, humanitarian flights, and government operations.


  • Vietnam: Vietnamese authorities continue to bar entry for foreign nationals, with limited exceptions, even though officials started to reissue electronic visas to foreign nationals from 80 locations since July 1. 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 undergo a 14-day quarantine at government-run facilities. Authorities have approved visa extensions for foreigners already in Vietnam through July 31. While inbound flights to Vietnam remain operational, officials in Da Nang city have banned international flights to the city as of July 28 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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