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Asia Minute: Travel Bans Growing

AP Photo/Miguel Morenatti
Vueling Airlines planes sit parked in a line at the Seville, Spain airport on Saturday, March 21, 2020, idled due to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

New measures being adopted this week across Hawai’i to fight the spread of the coronavirus. In some parts of the Asia Pacific, steps are being taken that are even more severe when it comes to visitors.

Hong Kong is the latest city to close its borders to non-residents with a very few exceptions. Starting at midnight tonight local time, visitors will not be allowed into Hong Kong for at least two weeks.

Those coming from mainland China, Macau or Taiwan will be granted entry, but only if they have not traveled anywhere else in the previous two weeks — and they may have to go into quarantine.

The ban includes transit passengers, which may complicate travel routes for people trying to return home from elsewhere in Asia — Hong Kong is a popular hub for many airlines.

Singapore is another regional air hub. And on Monday, the government barred entry and transit to all short-term visitors.

Australia banned all foreign travelers this past Friday – New Zealand did it the day before.

Many countries are also warning their residents against international travel. This past Thursday, the State Department advised Americans not to travel abroad, and to return to the U.S. if they are overseas.

On Monday, South Korea issued a “special travel advisory” urging its citizens to cancel all travel plans for the next four weeks.

Over the weekend, Japan issued a travel warning — urging its citizens to avoid non-essential travel to the United States.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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