China has signed special agreements with South Korea and Singapore. Japan is vetting allowing air travel from Thailand, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand. Cambodia plans to charge foreign visitors for the costs of anti-coronavirus checks. Indian borders remain closed.
Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – Several countries in the Asia-Pacific region are reactivating air links with foreign countries, after suspending them in late January and early February to counter the spread of the coronavirus.
According to the International Air Transport Organization (IATA), air travel dropped by 94.3 per cent in April. At the end of May, daily flights were up by 30 per cent compared to the negative peak of the previous month. IATA estimates that traffic will return to pre-crisis levels only in 2023.
The reopening of the borders is being driven by the need to revive national economies, hard hit by the pandemic-related recession. Below is an overview of the steps taken by some Asian-Pacific nations:
China: Citizens can return, but the entry of most foreigners remains suspended. Beijing has signed a fast-track programme with South Korea and Singapore to allow business travel and is in talks with more countries to do so. It has also allowed foreign executives and technical personnel from other nations to enter on pre-approved charter flights, sometimes with reduced quarantine.
Hong Kong: Transit flights at Hong Kong International Airport will be allowed to resume on 1 June. Non-residents coming from overseas countries and regions by plane are banned from entering Hong Kong. All passengers arriving into Hong Kong are tested for COVID-19.
Taiwan: A limited number of international flights continue to operate. Borders remain closed for foreigners unless they have a residence permit. All those entering the country must undergo a 14-day quarantine.
Japan: Borders are still closed for citizens of 111 countries. The government plans to let in 250 travellers per day from Thailand, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand. This reopening will start this summer and concern business executives and engineers. Later, the measure could be extended to travellers from China, the United States and South Korea.
South Korea: A few international flights continue to operate. All citizens and foreigners who enter are quarantined for two weeks. Diplomats or foreigners with official business status are exempted from mandatory quarantine but are tested on arrival.
Singapore: Borders are still closed, but the government is allowing travellers to transit through its main airport. It is in talks with some countries about reopening travel links. As of 8 June, government officials and business people can travel between Singapore and six Chinese provinces without undergoing long quarantines.
Thailand: A ban on commercial international flights has been extended until the end of June. Some charter flights are allowed. Citizens must provide certificates issued by Thai embassies, and foreigners are required to present a negative coronavirus test. There is a mandatory 14-day quarantine on arrival for both citizens and foreigners.
Malaysia: Borders remain effectively closed. As of 10 June, returning Malaysians who test negative can now self-isolate at home for 14 days, instead of at a quarantine centre.
Indonesia: Citizens and long-term pass holders may enter, but they must bring documents showing they are free of the coronavirus or undergo tests at the airport.
Vietnam: Borders remain closed except for citizens as well as foreign experts with valid work permits and negative coronavirus test certificates who are returning on charter flights. A 14-day quarantine upon arrival is mandatory. The government said it was seeking to reinstate international flights to countries that were free of the virus for 30 days
Cambodia: The Cambodian government will charge foreign visitors for COVID-1-related costs. This will include a US$ 5 travel fee from the airport to a waiting centre, US$ 100 for the COVID-19 test, and US$ 30 for accommodation whilst waiting for results.
Philippines: The country is still closed for foreigners, unless they are spouses or children of Philippine citizens, diplomats or employees of an international organisation. All those who enter the country must undergo a 14-day quarantine.
India: International travel is still suspended; the number of infections is rising in the country.
Australia and New Zealand: Borders are closed for foreigners in both countries. Entry is allowed only to citizens and residents. A 14-day quarantine is required. The two countries are examining a plan to allow travel between their airports.
Russia: Russian citizens can leave the country to work, study or take care of sick relatives. Foreigners can also visit Russia to care for relatives.