Travel restrictions in Southeast Asia have tightened as cases rise

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With growing concern about the Omicron variant, countries in Southeast Asia have reinstated travel restrictions to reduce the spread of the virus.

Previously, proof of vaccination was required to travel. Now travelers are also expected to undergo several tests and procedures to enter several Southeast Asian countries.

So what does this mean for travelers?

The departure hall of Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand. PICTURE: Sky News

Travelers from low-risk countries could previously enter with proof of vaccination under Singapore’s Vaccinated Traffic Lanes (VTLs), which had recently been suspended in December 2021 and will last until January 20, 2022, according to Singapore Civil Aviation Authority. After January 20, ticket sales will continue but at half capacity.

Thailand, having successfully completed its “Test & Go” program which allowed vaccinated travelers to enter the country without having to quarantine themselves, also suspended entry. Those who have already received their Thailand Pass QR code before the suspension can enter the country under the conditions of the program for which they have registered; however, those who received the code before December 22, 2021 are subject to additional requirements upon entering the country. The exception to this suspension is for persons under the Phuket sandbox program, which does not require quarantine on arrival for those who have been vaccinated. Nonetheless, travelers must stay in Phuket for at least seven days before being allowed to visit other parts of Thailand.

More recently, Malaysia has suspension of travel to Saudi Arabia for umrah due to concerns of non-compliance with SOPs by those returning from the pilgrimage. It comes after 64 cases of Omicron were reported in Malaysia as of December 31, 2021, of which 32 are pilgrims returning from umrah. Those returning from the pilgrimage from January 3, 2022 will have to undergo a period of quarantine in designated places.

It is not known when the restrictions could be completely lifted, but countries remain cautious and vigilant in their handling of the new variant.

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Cover image from Reuters.



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