Severity: Warning Alert

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

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Brunei Darussalam
  • Cambodia
  • Myanmar
  • Laos
  • Singapore
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam
  • Malaysia
  • Timor-Leste (East Timor)
  • Indonesia
  • Philippines

This alert began 19 May 2020 03:55 GMT and is scheduled to expire 02 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • 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 May 19:

  • Brunei: Authorities have banned foreigners, including long-term pass holders, from entering or transiting the country, and suspended all travel, student, and dependent visas. The government has also banned locals, permanent residents, and foreigners holding Bruneian identification cards from leaving the country. Only foreigners undergoing a medical emergency or resuming studies overseas can depart with approval from the Prime Minister's Office. Officials are requiring all travelers entering the country to undergo quarantine at designated facilities for 14 days.
  • Cambodia: Foreign nationals traveling from France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Spain, and the US will not be able to enter Cambodia until further notice. Issuance of tourist visas and e-visas, visa-on-arrival services, and visa exemption also 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. Authorities are quarantining all arrivals at government facilities, which are located at air, sea, and land points of entry for 14 days. Most border checkpoints with Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam remain closed.
  • Indonesia: The government has banned foreigners from entering or transiting the country. The restriction exempts permanent residents, diplomats, and transport workers. Inbound travelers, regardless of nationality, who show COVID-19 symptoms, will undergo quarantine at government premises. Authorities are advising all incoming passengers to self-quarantine for two weeks.
  • Laos: Authorities continue to ban international travel and suspend visa issuance until further notice, with some limited exceptions. The government is allowing foreigners already in the country to depart, while citizens can travel overseas for urgent reasons, such as essential government duties or medical purposes. Only foreign nationals visiting Laos for non-tourism purposes can obtain visas by submitting relevant documents to Lao diplomatic missions. These foreign nationals will need to get a health document stating they are free from COVID-19 within 72 hours before boarding Laos-bound flights. All arriving travelers will undergo isolation for two weeks at government-designated facilities.
  • Malaysia: Authorities have prohibited foreign nationals from entering Malaysia through at least June 9, with some limited exemptions such as foreign spouses and dependents of Malaysian citizens. All inbound passengers will have to undergo 14 days of quarantine at government facilities upon arrival. Authorities are also prohibiting Malaysian nationals from traveling abroad while the restrictions are in place.
  • Myanmar: Officials have stopped all international flights, except for relief or cargo flights, through at least May 31 and banned foreign nationals from entering through land border checkpoints. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also suspended visa issuance and visa-free travel to the country, with exemptions for diplomats, UN officials, and aircraft and ship crew. Returning Myanmar citizens and incoming foreigners, with some exceptions, will need to undergo a 21-day quarantine at government facilities and subsequent one-week self-isolation. Diplomats and resident UN officials can self-quarantine at their residence.
  • Philippines: The government continues to suspend all visas, including visas that the government has already issued, and visa-free privileges, effectively banning foreigners from entering the country. The restriction exempts foreign spouses and children of Philippine citizens and diplomatic staff and their dependents. All arriving travelers will undergo a two-week quarantine at government-designated facilities. Philippine citizens, except for Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and uniformed personnel on official duty, remain banned from departing the country.
  • Singapore: Officials have banned entry or transit of all short-term visa holders; 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 also need to apply for government approval before traveling to Singapore. Authorities are requiring all arriving passengers to submit an online health declaration up to three days before entering the country. Officials are also continuing to conduct enhanced health screenings for incoming travelers at all points of entry; passengers who show COVID-19 symptoms must undergo a swab test. Authorities will transfer suspected cases to hospitals for further checks. All inbound travelers will undergo quarantine at government-designated facilities for 14 days.
  • Thailand: Officials have extended a ban on inbound passenger flights through June 30. The government has also banned foreigners from entering the country, with limited exemptions, including for diplomats and transport workers.
  • Timor-Leste: Officials have closed the country's borders to all travelers, including East Timorese citizens; exemptions from the travel restrictions require approval from the Prime Minister's Office. People who can enter the country will undergo a 14-day quarantine at government facilities.
  • Vietnam: Officials have banned entry for all foreign nationals into the country, with exemptions for essential and skilled workers. All travelers allowed into the country will undergo quarantine at designated government-run facilities for 14 days. Authorities have also suspended all inbound international passenger flights. Officials have closed the country's land borders with Cambodia and Laos for passenger transit.

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
The measures correspond with similar actions taken by other governments worldwide in recent days in response to the spread of COVID-19. 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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