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Asia Minute: More virus restrictions are easing around the region

coronavirus Outbreak Thailand
Sakchai Lalit/AP
Commuters wearing face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus at a skytrain station in Bangkok, Thailand, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. Thai officials announced Friday that Sept. 30 will mark the last day of a state of emergency originally imposed to control the spread of the coronavirus, as they also drop virtually all restrictions, such as entry requirements for visitors from abroad. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Starting Monday, if you’re traveling to Hong Kong, you no longer need to quarantine in your hotel room. It’s the latest shift in rules in the Asia-Pacific — which is entering a new phase when it comes to the pandemic.

No more hotel quarantines in Hong Kong. No more outdoor mask mandates in South Korea.

And on Saturday, Thailand is lifting a national state of emergency that’s been in effect since the pandemic started.

All of these lingering virus-related regulations are easing this week around the Asia-Pacific.

It follows word that Japan will return to visa-free travel for most tourists starting in about two weeks.

Last week, when Hong Kong’s government announced the end of its mandatory quarantine system, the BBC reported an immediate spike in ticket sales to Hong Kong.

Visitors still face some restrictions there.

That includes three days of “self-monitoring” — during which time you can’t go to restaurants, shopping malls, or other “common areas.”

And while you don’t need a COVID test before getting on a plane, you do need a PCR test on the second, fourth and sixth day after arrival.

In South Korea, the outdoor mask mandate was partially lifted in May — but now it’s been removed for events with more than 50 people attending.

An indoor mask mandate remains.

And in Thailand, the government says new cases and fatalities are both declining — although officials still recommend vaccinations — and wearing masks at indoor gatherings.

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