Southeast Asian countries continue to enforce travel restrictions as of Oct. 13 due to COVID-19 activity. Additional measures are possible.
Alert Begins 13 Oct 2020 06:50 AM UTC
Alert Expires 27 Oct 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 Oct. 13:
- Brunei: Authorities continue to ban most foreigners, including long-term pass holders, from entering or transiting the country. Exemptions include foreigners whose work relates to matters of national interest, such as the oil and gas sector and the transport of essential goods. Authorities would consider appeals from foreign nationals in special situations to enter the country; the circumstances include foreigners studying on scholarships or undergoing medical treatment in Brunei. Foreigners permitted entry in such cases must obtain a Bruneian citizen or entity as a guarantor. People who can enter Brunei must test for COVID-19 before traveling and upon arrival and isolate for between two and 14 days at government-designated sites, depending on the risk level of the country of departure. Foreigners with essential or business needs can transit through Brunei by land with protocols in place, including entry or exit fees of BND 3 (USD 2.20) for each one-way trip across land borders; exempted travelers include children below the age of two years, diplomats and families, and those with emergency passes or on official duty. Both private and commercial foreign-registered vehicles must obtain a paid vehicle pass sticker from the Land Department by Oct. 15. Foreigners, including transit passengers and commercial vehicle operators, must provide a negative COVID-19 swab test result taken within seven days before arrival in Brunei. Officials allow cross-border travel for business and official purposes with Singapore in a so-called Reciprocal Green Lane scheme. For travelers 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, 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 depart 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 who 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. 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 as of Oct. 13, with exemptions for permanent residents, diplomats, and transport workers, among others. 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. Indonesian and Singaporean officials plan to start accepting cross-border travel applications for business and official purposes from Oct. 26. Travelers allowed to enter Indonesia under the scheme must have a sponsoring Indonesian government agency or company, test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours before departure, and receive another COVID-19 test upon arrival. Authorities will provide more information on the requirements in the coming days. The government has sometimes provided conflicting information about COVID-19 restrictions in recent weeks; changes to measures may occur at short notice.
- Laos: Most inbound travel remains banned through at least Oct. 31, with exceptions for resident diplomats and essential workers, among others. Issuance of tourist visas, visas-on-arrival, and visa exemptions remain suspended. The government allows charter flights from countries that have low COVID-19 activity to operate. 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. Entrants who test negative for COVID-19 may quarantine at their residence; those who test positive must isolate at selected hospitals. Additionally, returning Laos citizens have to register at their nearest Laos diplomatic mission at least seven days before the trip, while foreigners who can still enter Laos must obtain visas from the nearest Laos diplomatic mission. International travel and border restrictions remain in effect, with exceptions for cargo transport. Laos citizens departing the country must obtain approval from their employer and the authorities; foreign nationals leaving Laos have to notify their country's embassy in Laos to obtain approval from the local authorities on their behalf. Passengers departing Laos must also obtain a negative test for COVID-19 within 72 hours before the flight, complete a health declaration form, and carry USD 3,000 in cash.
- Malaysia: Most foreigners are still unable to enter the country; exemptions are in place for resident diplomats, foreign spouses, dependents of Malaysian citizens, long-term pass holders, and expatriate employees working in essential industries and their dependents, among others. The government relaxed an entry ban that it had earlier imposed on travelers arriving from nations having over 150,000 COVID-19 cases. Foreigners from these locations who hold work or permanent residency permits, including foreign spouses of Malaysian citizens, are allowed to enter Malaysia, provided they have obtained approval from Malaysian authorities and will be remaining in the country permanently. 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, with limited exceptions. 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. Under the Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA) scheme for crossborder travel with Singapore, only people traveling to Johor State can quarantine at their residence or accommodation for seven days upon arrival, while those who are going to other Malaysian states must isolate at government-designated facilities for a week. The travelers can leave the quarantine sites upon testing negative for COVID-19. The PCA program allows long-term work visa holders to undertake multiple-entry visits through land border crossings at Woodlands or Tuas for 90-day stays once their applications are approved. 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 protocols, including a pre-approved itinerary for 14 days.
- Myanmar: The ban on most international flights is in effect through Oct. 31; 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 also remain suspended through Oct. 31. 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 up to 36 hours before 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. Nonessential outbound travel remains banned, though 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; authorities said medical workers who had overseas contracts and complete documents as of Aug. 31 may travel out of the country.
- 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. Starting Oct. 15, authorities will require arrivals who have traveled to Malaysia's Sabah State within the past 14 days to quarantine at government-designated facilities for two weeks. The policy also affects people using special cross-border travel arrangements. Authorities will also ease quarantine rules for arrivals from Hong Kong and allow such passengers to serve stay-at-home notice (SHN) at their residence for seven days from Oct. 15. Additionally, starting Oct. 20, officials will require passengers with recent travel history to Indonesia or the Philippines to test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours before departure; similar rules are in place for entrants from India. Travelers must test negative for COVID-19 at the end of their SHN before they can leave the SHN facilities; the same protocols are in place for travelers from mainland China, Macau, Malaysia (excluding Sabah State), and Taiwan. Authorities will start accepting applications for business and other official travels with Indonesia in a so-called Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) arrangement from Oct. 26, with protocols such as compulsory COVID-19 tests before travel and upon arrival. The government will provide further information on the scheme in the coming days. Similar travel arrangements are in place with Brunei, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, along with Guangdong, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang provinces and Chongqing, Shanghai, and Tianjin municipalities in mainland China. Travelers allowed to enter Singapore under the existing programs must have a sponsoring Singaporean government agency or company, seek prior approval from the Singaporean authorities, and test negative for COVID-19 within 48-72 hours before departure. Except for those from Malaysia's Sabah State, travelers must receive another COVID-19 test upon arriving in Singapore and remain at their accommodation until the test returns negative; they must also adhere to controlled itineraries for the first 14 days of their visit. Additionally, long-term pass holders from Malaysia (except Sabah State) traveling under the Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA) program must isolate upon arrival for at least seven days or until they test negative for COVID-19, whichever is later. Authorities allow entry for all travelers, including returning Singapore citizens and residents, from Australia (except Victoria State), Brunei, New Zealand, and Vietnam. Protocols include requiring passengers to register online on the Safe Travel portal at least seven days before the planned entry date and self-isolate until results from an on-arrival COVID-19 test are ready. 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: Authorities have postponed the resumption of foreign tourists' entry and inbound tourist flights until at least Oct. 25. The government initially allowed foreign tourists from mainland China's Guangzhou to arrive in Phuket using special tourist visas, Oct. 8; officials attributed the delay to administrative issues and locals' public health concerns. Cargo, emergency, and repatriation flights and government aircraft can continue operating. Most foreigners remain barred from entering Thailand as of Oct. 13. Exceptions from the ban currently 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. People who can enter Thailand will quarantine for 14 days at government-designated facilities upon arrival, with limited exemptions. Some border checkpoints are open for the transport of goods and traders; foreign tourists remain banned from entering Thailand through border checkpoints. Officials have approved visa extensions through Oct. 31 for foreigners already in Thailand. 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 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 test for COVID-19 before traveling and upon arrival and must undergo a 14-day quarantine at government facilities. Travelers can leave the isolation sites upon testing negative for COVID-19 at the end of the quarantine period. International passenger flights remain suspended, except for medical evacuations, humanitarian flights, and government operations. Officials allow a limited number of people, with priority for Timor-Leste citizens, to enter through its land border with Indonesia every 17 days since Aug. 11. Shipping operations continue at the country's ports, including the Port of Dili.
- Vietnam: The government has halted inbound passenger flights as of Oct. 13 to improve quarantine procedures for arrivals. The resumption date of the flights is unclear. Prior to the flight suspension, officials required arrivals to test negative for COVID-19 up to five days before the travel date, isolate at designated facilities for at least five days, and test for COVID-19 twice at the quarantine sites, with limited exemptions. Additionally, the government exempted foreign experts, business managers, investors, and diplomats who are visiting Vietnam for less than 14 days from isolation requirements, though these foreigners would still have to comply with other health protocols like testing for COVID-19 before departure and upon arrival. Authorities may revise these isolation rules upon resuming inbound passenger flights. Foreigners remain banned from entering Vietnam, with exceptions for foreign experts, investors, managers, skilled workers, and resident diplomats. While short-term trips to Vietnam for leisure purposes remain banned, officials have started to reissue electronic visas to foreign nationals from 80 locations, including Australia, mainland China, India, Japan, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Korea, the UK, and the US. Authorities have approved visa extensions through Oct. 31for foreigners in Vietnam.
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.