Covid recovery round-up: travel

Some destinations in Asia Pacific are gradually opening to International travel while strict restrictions remain in others. Here’s a selection with quarantine and testing requirements

Covid risk: Level 4 – Very High
Travel status:  Opened on February 21 to fully vaccinated overseas arrivals who hold valid visas. Western Australia to open from March 3.

Vaccination and tests:  Travellers must also show proof of a negative rapid antigen test (RAT) within 24 hours of departure or a Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of departureunless proof of medical exemption is provided.

Quarantine? None for eligible travellers who meet the vaccination and test criteria.

What they say: “We are successfully managing the pandemic and learning to live with the virus,” said Australia’s tourism minister Dan Tehan. “Australians are travelling overseas, and we are welcoming international visitors to our country.”


Covid-risk: Level 1 – Low
Travel status: Partially open for Chinese citizens and eligible foreign arrivals, but closed for tourism. Entry restrictions for passengers who arrive from or have been in United States.

Vaccination and tests: Proof of a negative test is required before entering with passengers required to undergo another test within 72 hours of arriving. Travellers must also provide a Health Declaration certified by a Chinese embassy or consulate that shows evidence of a negative test no more than 48 hours before travelling.

Opinion… Vaccines and living with Covid

Quarantine: At least 14 days at a government designated following health checks on arrival. The United States government warns children 14 and over at some points of entry will be required to quarantine alone irrespective of whether they test positive or negative for Covid. It also advises that requirements in each province can differ and change at short notice.

What they say: Casino consultant Andrew Klebanow wrote in Asia Gaming Brief: “Looming large as an obstacle to a recovery of regional international tourism is the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) and its Zero-Covid policy.

“Recently witnessed on the world stage during the Winter Olympics in Beijing, the PRC along with Macau, have designed and implemented a health safety system that closely monitors its citizens’ movements and possible interactions with people who may have been infected.

“Neither [China nor Macau SAR expects] to alter that policy until the virus is eradicated.”


Covid risk: Level 3 – High
Travel status: Travellers who have visited the United Kingdom or seven other designated countries within 21 days of arrival are not permitted to enter or transit through Hong Kong International Airport.

Exemptions apply to holders of a Hong Kong SAR passport, residents with ID card, Hong Kong residents arriving from mainland China, Taiwan and Macau who have not been outside Greater China in the previous 21 days.

A ban on inbound flights from eight countries has been extended until April 20 as the city battles a fifth wave of Covid triggered by the Omicron variant. Passengers are subject to medical screening on arrival.

Backgrounder… Give us a sensible anti-Covid plan, officials urged

Vaccination and Tests: Arrivals need to show a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) based nucleic acid test result taken no more than 48 hours before their departure.

Quarantine: 14 days in total with seven at the Hong Kong SAR Government’s Penny’s Bay Quarantine Centre followed by a designated hotel. The quarantine requirement was previously 21 days.

What they’re saying: After two failed attempts to form an air-travel bubble with Singapore, Hong Kong officials are now engrossed in aligning the fight against the Omicron variant with Beijing’s commitment to a “dynamic zero-Covid” strategy. This contrasts with other economies that are opening to travel and functioning with Covid instead of committing to eradicate this less lethal but nonetheless infection strain of the virus.

Infections have soared in Hong Kong with 55,000 new cases reported overnight. The crisis resulted in patients waiting outside hospitals under tents and the health system being overloaded to the extent that experts from mainland China have arrived to help.
The authority’s lack of a coherent strategy has been criticised across the city with uncertainty over whether lockdown measures would be imposed. Government sources hinted to the South China Morning Post on Wednesday that a nine-day lockdown would get underway in mid-March as a mandatory testing program is rolled with each resident having to take three tests in addition to self-testing at home. But the special administrative region’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam later said plans were still being finalised but would not involve a compete lockdown of the city. – Martin Donovan


Level 3 – High

Travel status: Fully vaccinated New Zealanders and eligible visa holders are now able to enter the country from Australia. From Saturday, the borders open to vaccinated international travellers who are eligible to enter the country. This will be followed by further stages of opening.

Vaccination and tests: Arrivals must have a negative pre-departure test.

Quarantine: Does not apply to fully vaccinated travellers who are eligible to enter based on New Zealand’s five stages of reopening. Non-vaccinated arrivals must undergo managed isolation and quarantine for a minimum of seven days.

What they say: “This is a great start in reconnecting New Zealand with the world. We are encouraged by the Prime Minister saying a decision could be made by mid-March on opening up to all travellers,” said Lisa Hopkins, chief executive of Business Events Industry Aotearoa.

“However, for the past two years, our industry has felt like it has been in a permanent lockdown. We have a significant number of business events in a holding pattern because of current international border settings and, as a consequence, many New Zealanders here at home are still unsure of their future.

“We now look forward to timely decisions on the next steps of the plan to ensure the industry can begin its own recovery from Covid.”


Level 4 –  Very High
Partially open to foreign arrivals and tourists.

Vaccinated Traveller Lanes (VTL) have been set up for air arrivals who are required to conduct their own rapid anti-gen tests each day of their stay in Singapore.

Passengers entering and transiting through Singapore must have a negative Covid test taken a minimum of two days before the day of departure to Singapore.


Level 3 – High
The Test & Go scheme is being restarted for fully vaccinated tourists to enter while the Sandbox Scheme aimed at reviving tourism in Phuket continues. Arfrivals must undergo RT-PCR testing at a government-designated facility. The test will be free of charge.

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