Airline employees await passengers at Haneda airport in Tokyo. Photo: REUTERS file
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Asia-Pacific countries begin to ease travel bans, but hurdles remain

5 Comments
By Jamie Freed

Asia-Pacific countries including Singapore, Australia and Japan are gradually easing some international travel restrictions as coronavirus cases slow, in hopes of helping to revive their economies.

International travel in Asia has collapsed during the pandemic due to border closures, with passenger numbers down 97% in August, according to the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines.

Although European countries that had been more open add fresh travel restrictions as cases rise, in Asia the trend is toward easing, though not always on a bilateral basis.

For now, few people are likely to travel because of testing and insurance requirements, and in some cases the need to quarantine upon return home, meaning the deals offer limited hope for airlines and the tourism industry.

A Singapore-Indonesia deal announced on Monday for essential business and official travel will require an application and COVID-19 swab tests both before and after travel.

New Zealanders will be able to travel to some parts of Australia starting Friday without quarantining, including to New South Wales, Canberra and the Northern Territory.

However, New Zealanders who return from Australia must quarantine for two weeks under government supervision at the cost of NZ$3100 ($2,064.91) for the first person and more for additional family members.

New Zealand, due to hold an election on Oct 17, has said it does not plan open its borders to Australians for now.

Australia is also in talks with Japan, South Korea, Singapore and South Pacific nations on reopening travel as coronavirus infections ease, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Sunday.

Japan and Vietnam will allow short-term business travel with each other, the Yomiuri daily said.

The pact, which will take effect by the end of October at the earliest, follows similar steps to ease business travel restrictions to Singapore and South Korea, the paper added.

Japan is also planning to remove a ban on overseas travel to China and 11 other countries and regions including Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Vietnam and Malaysia next month, the Yomuiri said, though it would still advise against non-essential travel.

Asked about the report, immigration official Seiji Matano said that no decision had been made, but that the government would consider how to reopen traffic in a way that prevents infection.

Many of the countries to which Japan will reportedly allow travel ban most non-citizens and non-residents from entering.

Japan allows citizens, residents, and visa holders to reenter the country after testing negative for COVID-19 at the airport, with a capacity of about 10,000 per day.

© Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

5 Comments
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Japan allows citizens, residents, and visa holders to reenter the country after testing negative for COVID-19 at the airport, with a capacity of about 10,000 per day.

10,000 per day? Yeah, right. More like 10,000 per week.

It was hoped to allow up to 3000/day total entrants by the end of September with the opening of the new airport testing centers, but for the past week, there has only been between 1300 to 2100 tests done per day done on arrivals at all airports in Japan, and supposedly all entrants (both Japanese and non-Japanese) are tested.

Also, for non-Japanese entrants, its been stated that its currently being capped at aroud 1000 non-Japanese per day allowed in.

And its also worth mentioning that also in the past week, between 5 and 13 of those entrants are tested positive for the virus per day at the airports, and that well over 1000 people are currently in airport quarentine with the virus. And lets not forget that all those positive case entrants all rode on airplanes together with other passengers and crew who tested negative on arrival, yet it takes about 4 or days after exposure to actually test positive.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

It is a very big risk, but unfortunately also is keeping the borders closed. At this point it seems rational to take a cautious approach, but only as long as some control is still kept. It would not be good to just open all borders without any restriction.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Asia-Pacific countries including Singapore, Australia and Japan are gradually easing some international travel restrictions as coronavirus cases slow, in hopes of helping to revive their economies.

Yet shipping to Australia with Japan post continues to be restricted only to surface mail. I guess small ecommerce merchants don't count in reviving the economy.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

together with other passengers and crew who tested negative on arrival, yet it takes about 4 or days after exposure to actually test positive

Good point.

Travellers - citizens and residents - should be tested on the last day of quarantine in order to avoid even more unreported/assymptomatic cases and further spread.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

wha difference does it make?!! Just open the boarders as Japan believes they are safe with never a day of more than 400+ cases a day.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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