The Australian government has recently announced the reopening of international borders starting in November. However, many countries all around the world are still dealing with a high number of Covid-19 cases. If you have any plans to travel to Southeast Asia during this time, whether for work purposes or to return to your home country, there are few things that you need to know before you fly. Here is everything that you need to know about travelling to Southeast Asia during the pandemic.
What is the current Covid-19 situation in Southeast Asia?
Many of the countries in Southeast Asia are dealing with a surge in Covid-19 cases, mainly cases of the Delta variant. However, there has been a slight decrease in daily cases, believed to be the result of the citizens receiving the Covid-19 vaccination. Vaccine rollouts are at a steady pace for countries like Singapore and Malaysia, while the rates of fully vaccinated individuals in countries like Myanmar and Vietnam are still quite low.
Many restrictions have been imposed by the local government to slow the spreading of the virus, including curfews and bans of interstate travels. There are also strict implementations of standard operating procedures (SOP) by the local governments. These SOPs include movement restrictions for unvaccinated individuals to public areas such as shopping malls and parks. Any individuals who were caught violating the SOP may be subjected to punishment including fines.
Which Southeast Asian country has opened its borders?
As of September 2021, all the Southeast Asia countries are still closed off for traveling. Only local nationals or individuals carrying the countries’ passports are allowed in and out of the countries. Such exemption is valid for countries like the Philippines and Indonesia. If you are a resident, permanent resident, or a spouse or close relative of a local, you may apply for approval by the government to enter the country.
Countries like Singapore and Malaysia have discussed gradually opening the borders for diplomats and business travellers with essential business purposes. Meanwhile, countries like Vietnam and Cambodia remain strict with border closure and have imposed stringent entry requirements.
The only country in Southeast Asia that has opened its borders for tourism purposes is Thailand. However, it is only limited to fully vaccinated individuals with negative pre-flight PCR tests, and only covers the region of Phuket, Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan, and Koh Tao.
Which vaccines are accepted in Southeast Asia?
All travellers that wish to enter any of the countries in Southeast Asia must be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus and have completed the entirety of the waiting period after receiving the final vaccine shot. The accepted Covid-19 vaccines will differ according to countries, but the common vaccines that are accepted include:
Do you have to take the PCR test before and after your flight?
All individuals travelling to any Southeast Asian country are subjected to a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test before they are allowed to fly. The test must be taken within 48 hours of the departure time. Another PCR test is required upon arrival at the airport before you depart for the quarantine facility. Travellers may have to cover the cost of the PCR test on their own.
Several PCR tests will also be done during your quarantine period before you are allowed to enter the country. The test would typically be done on the 1st day, the 6th or 7th day, and the last day of quarantine. You are only permitted to enter the country once you have received a negative PCR test.
How long are the quarantine periods in Southeast Asia?
All individuals arriving in Southeast Asia are subjected to a quarantine period of 14 days. This applies to all individuals, both local nationals and foreigners. It is also not dependant on the status of vaccination, meaning, fully vaccinated individuals are also required to be under quarantine before entering the country.
While in quarantine, individuals will be placed in a government-selected quarantine facility and will not be allowed to leave their room under any circumstance until the end of the quarantine period. You will only be allowed into the country if you have received a negative PCR test at the end of 14-day quarantine.
What can you do to protect yourself once you have reached Southeast Asia?
You will be subjected to a 14-day quarantine upon arrival, where you are not allowed to leave the facility under any circumstances. It is best to prepare all the necessary items for your quarantine, before flying. Daily meals will be prepared for you by the quarantine facility, but items like toiletries, sanitary items, and travel adapters may not be provided so it is best to bring your own if you need such items during your quarantine.
Once you have entered the country, it is recommended that you avoid any unnecessary travelling and movement to reduce the risk of infection. In most Southeast Asian countries, it is mandatory to wear a mask when in public so remember to always wear your face mask. If you are commuting with another individual or in a group, such as in buses and planes, it is best to practice social distancing and clean your hands frequently with either an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
Also, avoid sharing any of your items with other individuals, unless necessary. If you are using a service where items are rented and shared amongst individuals, like helmets for bikes or motorcycles, it is ideal that you disinfect the item before using it.
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