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Asia Minute: Slowly Opening Air Travel for Business?

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Some restrictions are gradually loosening on businesses around the state this week and next week –although we are still some time from ramping up travel to Hawaii. But there are some countries in the Asia Pacific that are taking a different kind of attitude to certain types of travel.

International travel has shriveled around the world. The Pew Research Center says that by the end of March, 90% of countries had partially or totally closed their borders to foreign nationals. 

In the Asia Pacific, some exceptions are emerging for business travelers.

Last week, Vietnam welcomed a group of 340 South Korean businesspeople, while officials are still barring all other foreign visitors.  All of the arrivals tested negative for the novel coronavirus before leaving South Korea, and they are currently going through a 14-day quarantine in hotel rooms.

South Korea is the biggest foreign investor in Vietnam, and many of the visitors are considered essential personnel for factory construction, operations or management.

China and South Korea have agreed to allow certain business travel between their countries — also with strict conditions. Any traveler going in either direction must have a negative test for the virus within three days of their departure, undergo a quarantine, and be tested again before conducting any business.

Trade ministers of South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Singapore are discussing ways to speed business travel among their countries. The ministers have announced the measures are aimed specifically at maintaining global supply chains.

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