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UPDATE: Covid-19 visitor entry around the region

Tanutam Thawan



Around the region there are many countries starting to re-open their borders to allow some business or diplomatic visitors, even tourists, to enter their national borders. The situation is changing frequently and we’d urge you to contact the national embassies in your countries before making any concrete arrangements or paying money for airfares or accommodation before you clarify the situation, specific to your circumstances.

Here’s some of the latest information as we whip around the region…


Thailand’s Foreign Ministry has confirmed that the new Special Tourist visa will only be available to tourists from countries “deemed to be at low risk from Covid-19”. At this stage Thai officials have not identified who the low-risk countries are, but it has been reported in Thai media that the list will probably include China, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong. The Thai Sports & Tourism minister has also hinted that the government would probably be admitting selected low-risk “cities”, rather than applying the policy to entire countries. None of these details are currently available.

The launch date of the STV, meant for the start of October, has been pushed back to at least October 25 after officials “postponed” a trial visit of 150 Chinese visitors on a chartered Air Asia flight to Phuket. It was meant to arrive on October 8 but mystery shrouded the arrival of the first batch of new tourists until the date passed, without a plane hitting the ground in Phuket and the Governor announcing that the Carter was pushed back until after the annual vegetarian festival is over.

The 90 day special tourist visa costs 2,000 baht and can be extended twice to give the visitor an overall stay of 270 days. It also comes with a lot of additional red tape and added costs and is being aimed at high-spend, long-stay tourists at this stage.


Vietnamese officials have decided to lift a mandatory 14 day quarantine period for foreign “experts, investors, managers and diplomats” visiting the country for less than 14 days. The country’s Ministry of Health says it will allow the “pursuit of dual goals to combat disease and ensuring economic growth.”

These foreign visitors will now be exempt from the earlier 14 day quarantine at centralised state facilities “if they stay in Vietnam for fewer than 14 days”.

“However, they have to comply with all other requirements, including wearing a mask and refraining from shaking hands to prevent the spread of Covid-19.”

The visitors will also need to complete medical procedures, including a test for Covid-19 every two days. The companies and organisations that invite them into the country will need to guarantee that it, or an international insurance company, will bear any medical or other expenses “if they contract the disease in Vietnam”.

The Vietnam Government Portal has announced that the updated quarantine concession will enable the country’s industries and manufacturing sectors to bring in the necessary foreign expertise for “short stays” to supervise the installation or maintenance of essential machinery.

Last month, the Vietnamese government agreed to open a travel bubble between Vietnam and “investment partners, such as South Korea. For business people or visitors entering Vietnam for a period longer than 14 days, they will have to register at quarantine sites (hotels or the state-organised quarantine) and present negative Covid-19 certificates 3 – 5 days before arrival. Anyone testing positive will be admitted to medical centres for treatment.

“Those reporting negative results twice can switch from centralised quarantine sites to isolation at home or their place of work or a hotel until they complete their 14 day quarantine period.”


Hong Kong authorities have suspended Nepal Airlines flights until at least October 17. Civil aviation officials in Hong Kong introduced the ban October 4, after several passengers travelling from Kathmandu Airport to Hong Kong Airport tested positive for Covid-19 when they arrived, despite having presented a negative test result prior to departure.


China will be removed from Japan’s list of banned countries from November. Along with the Chinese mainland, restrictions will be lifted for 11 other countries and regions, including Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Vietnam and Malaysia.

Japanese businesses say they are particularly keen for their staff to start travelling to China and around south east Asia, where many of their companies have factories.

International business travellers with residency status in Japan will also soon be permitted to reenter the country without undergoing the 14 day quarantine.


For its trekking sector, Nepalese officials have announced that it will give foreign nationals permission to enter the country for mountaineering and trekking from October 17, 2020, subject to providing a valid negative Covid-19 PCR test.


Travellers who resided in Australia for the last 14 days, except the southern state of Victoria, or Vietnam, can now enter Singapore subject to a Covid-19 test on arrival at Singapore Changi Airport. They will be exempt from serving a Stay-at-home ‘quarantine’ if their test was negative.

“Travellers need to complete an Air Travel Pass application between seven and 30 days before their intended arrival into Singapore.”

Singapore and Indonesia have also reopened borders between the two countries for essential business and official travel. The new ‘green lane’ will start from October 26.


Entry to Sri Lanka is currently prohibited for all non-nationals. A 14 day quarantine is mandatory for anyone else travelling to Sri Lanka, followed by another 14 days self-isolation at home.

The situation is being updated by governments almost daily and we’ll bring you all the latest information about borders re-opening around the region at



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  1. Avatar


    Monday, October 12, 2020 at 8:55 am

    For Thailand does it go by passport county or just the country… so if a us citizen was in south Korea for the last 3 months can they enter Thaialnd ?

    • Avatar


      Monday, October 12, 2020 at 11:36 am

      Not Thailand but I know some European countries are limiting by country and other by nationally. For example Italy doesn’t allow travel from America, but at the same time Americans are not banned. Italian immigration rules allow entry by any nationality as long as they have resided in an approved country for 14 days. Americans are traveling by way of Croatia (only require a pre flight test and is an Italian approved country) who doesn’t require they quarantine. They vacation in Croatia for 14 days and retest prior to enterIng Italy. The Italians are knowingly outsourcing their quarantine at the expense and to the benefit of a third country. The Italians are happy as they are getting quarantine tourists, the Croatians are happy as they are getting tourists period, even the Americans are happy as they visit Italy one of their favorite countries when otherwise they could not. Win, win, win. It will be interesting to see if Thailand allows something similar if and when the situation arises.

      • Avatar

        Issan John

        Monday, October 12, 2020 at 1:25 pm

        NOt sure how “happy” the Italians are.

        The CFR / IFR / risk of dying from Covid-19 if you catch it in Italy has been between 10 and 14% since March*, and infections have been rising since June; at the end of September they had under two thousand a day, now they’ve got nearly 6,000 a day so getting back close to the worst numbers in March*.

        When things are that bad, it’s unlikely a few more tourists are going to make things much worse – or that most tourists would have any interest in going anywhere near it.


        • Avatar

          Don R

          Thursday, October 15, 2020 at 5:31 pm

          Wow, talk about unhinged.

          Just checked the stats on Italy. In April they were averaging 800 deaths per day. Now it’s about 30.

          It’s time to go back to normal, and for people to stop pushing fear and hysteria

      • Avatar

        Issan John

        Monday, October 12, 2020 at 5:41 pm

        Those catching the Corona Virus in Italy have had a 12 to 14% chance of dying from it for the last 6 months* and their infection rates have shot up since the end of September to nearly 6,000 per day – back to the same rates they had at the previous peak.

        They may not be “happy” about it, but what difference can the arrival of Americans or anyone else stupid enough to go there make?


        • Avatar


          Monday, October 12, 2020 at 9:37 pm

          You kinda missed the point, it wasn’t about Italy per say. It was about countries using a third party to still quarantine while mitigating it’s negative effects on demand. As to Italy itself, your stats while correct as also disingenuous. The vast majority of those deaths came in the first wave, when Italy was hit first and the hardest of any country outside of China (if we are to believe the numbers out of Taiwan who has proven time and again to be correct). There are unique reasons for that, but it’s a different topic. So far with countries going through a second wave, the death and hospitalization rates have been a fraction of the first wave. Basically the opposite of the Spanish flu. While Italy’s second wave is behind that of France, England, Spain, Austria, and the Czech Republic to name a few it will probably be just as bad. The reason is obvious as they completely let down their guard. Only today did they again require masks to be worn outdoors, the banning of large crowds, and strict social distancing. I realize you wish Thailand to stay in it’s little bubble even if it means economic collapse (not that you want the economy to do bad). However other countries, some who have done a comparable job of taming the virus like Taiwan, Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong all realize they have to open back up. They plan to do so slowly and carefully, but open up they have started to do. Thailand on the other hand seems to have no intention of doing so (fake Chinese tour groups proving that point). Maybe it’s the correct method, I’m for one hope that’s the case for Thailand’s sake.

          • Avatar

            Issan John

            Tuesday, October 13, 2020 at 5:18 pm

            Fair comment, apart from “I realize you wish Thailand to stay in it’s little bubble even if it means economic collapse (not that you want the economy to do bad).”

            I actually think Thailand should “open up” by encouraging long stayers (including those already here) by having a simple policy of 14 days quarantine, preferably not just in expensive hotels, and tests on arrival and at the 7 and 14 day points, with 90 day indefinitely renewable visas, with a minimum of 30 days notice of ending the renewals for those on them.

            For those who want to come for a short period to see their g/f, b/f, or family, those should be allowed to join them in quarantine.

            Nothing else – keep it simple.

            As for “economic collapse”, I think it’s inevitable that the tourist industry is going to have severe problems whatever happens, but that this can be balanced by minimising the effect on the rest of the economy (industry, agriculture, exports, etc) and on life in general (schools, restaurants, bars, gyms, beaches, etc).

  2. Avatar

    Don R

    Monday, October 12, 2020 at 9:38 am

    No reason to visit Asia right now. Even when countries finally open up to tourists, it will be an unpleasant experience.

  3. Avatar


    Monday, October 12, 2020 at 10:39 am

    Europe has recently derestricted its boarder controls and guess what? the infection rates have experienced exponential rises in NEW DAILY covid infections: France 26,000, UK 23,000, Spain 13,000, and many cities are now in lockdown. Do you really think Thailand is going to ease its restrictions and face this?

    • Avatar


      Monday, October 12, 2020 at 11:00 am

      Europe isn’t really a good example. Most of Europe doesn’t actually have any borders anymore. In order to restrict travel, countries were required to create them from scratch (and it was spotty at best). The current outbreak is the result of unrestricted summer travel, travel with no controls whatsoever. No testing, little to no mask use, little to no social distancing, and few restrictions on crowds. The bars and restaurants were packed with young people partying like there was no tomorrow for a couple of weeks and then heading home. The EU actually started punishing countries that didn’t take down their border controls from the first wave.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Monday, October 12, 2020 at 1:29 pm

      Let’s hope not. It’s not just about the fatalities, although that would be bad enough, but the effect on the rest of the economy, on schools, unis, and daily life.

    • Avatar

      Don R

      Wednesday, October 14, 2020 at 11:55 am

      How many deaths?

      What’s most relevant is how the number of cases in many EU countries is 2 or 3 times the peak last spring, yet deaths have barely increased, in some cases there’s been no increase in deaths.

      You’re right, Asia will not open until they are 100% certain that the teeny tiny risk of Rona has been mitigated. And as a result, many will die in poverty. Pay close attention, kids. There’s an important lesson in this moment of history for you.

  4. Avatar

    Kaija Sandt

    Monday, October 12, 2020 at 3:41 pm

    I think it might be worth mentioning that non residents wanting to visit Hong Kong will have to quarantine for 14 days either at their flats or in other locations such as hotels. This situation remains in place until the end of this year.

    • Avatar


      Monday, October 12, 2020 at 11:27 pm

      That’s true except for the travel bubbles they are currently setting up. They will have one with Singapore soon which allows tourism and without a quarantine. Hong Kong has reached out to 11 other countries to do the same thing.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Tuesday, October 13, 2020 at 5:03 pm


      Once you look at the detail of what they’re doing, the reality is that they’re not actually “opening up” any more than Thailand, they’re just not making such a mess of it from a PR perspective as their ministers and politicos aren’t all taking the opportunity to get their faces in the media and chip in with yet another absurd idea or to score points off each other.

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