From Singapore to Sydney, Bali to Bangkok, authorities have announced a flurry of plans to welcome vaccinated travelers by drastically reducing or completely removing quarantine requirements in place for most of the pandemic. For these places, the easing is a significant shift toward opening up just as the traditional year-end holiday season approaches.
“For double-vaccinated people around the world, Sydney, New South Wales is open for business,” declared New South Wales state Premier Dominic Perrottet on Friday, as Australia’s most populous state announced it will waive the 14-day quarantine for travelers from November. “We want people back.”
QUARANTINE NO MORE
Lengthy quarantine for travelers was a signature of much of the Asia-Pacific region’s containment playbook, with quarantines of as long as 21 days in some places catching most infections at the border.
Until the delta variant came along, the strategy helped places like China, Hong Kong,Australia, New Zealand and Singapore all but eliminate the virus at one point. For nations like Thailand and Malaysia, such quarantines helped keep cases from overwhelming the population for a time. But those strict rules left the region falling behind as the rest of the world started reopening months ago.
The New South Wales move followed announcements by Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore earlier in the month to either do away with restrictions on who can enter or ease rules on entry.
Indian honeymooners are excited about foreign shores.
Singapore recently announced quarantine-free travel for vaccinated travelers from countries in Europe, Asia and the U.S., and has signaled more places will be added.Travel, transport and trade are critical for the city, a global financial hub and a gateway to the rest of Asia.
Indonesia is also reopening, allowing inoculated visitors from more countries to enter and imposing a shorter quarantine period. The country reopened tourist spot Bali, as well as Batam and Bintan islands, to foreign visitors this week.
The Philippines has exempted fully vaccinated visitors from low-risk places from quarantines at designated facilities. Malaysia is considering reopening its borders to fully vaccinated travelers from certain countries without the need to undergo mandatory quarantine, National Recovery Council Chairman Muhyiddin Yassin said.
Vietnam plans to reopen Phu Quoc Island to fully vaccinated foreign travelers, mainly from Europe, the U.S., Australia, Northeast Asia and the Middle East, on a trial basis from November. The country eyes fully reopening its borders to international visitors from June 2022, the government announced, without detailing any quarantine rules.
INDIANS LOVE IT
The drive to reopen is picking up pace as more of the so-called Covid-Zero countries abandon their virus elimination strategies. Authorities from New Zealand to Singapore are now finding ways to accept Covid as endemic.
(With inputs from Bloomberg in October 2021)