Asia Minute: Regional Travel Rules Evolving

Oct 19, 2020

As Hawaii continues with its pre-travel testing program, some countries in the Asia Pacific are making plans to gradually ease travel restrictions. But the pace of change is cautious — and uneven.

Residents of New Zealand can now fly to Sydney and skip the 14-day quarantine that’s even required of returning Australian citizens. But there’s a catch — when they go home, they need to undergo two weeks of government-supervised quarantine in New Zealand, and pay more than 2,000 U.S. dollars for the experience.

Also, while New Zealanders are welcome to fly to several parts of Australia, Australians cannot travel to New Zealand.

Many countries in the region are still closed to foreign travel, and any partial re-openings are cautious.

Thailand will soon begin a test with China, when a small group of Chinese travelers arrive under tightly controlled circumstances. There will be COVID tests before departure, a 14-day quarantine, and at least two other tests during that quarantine period.

Plus, the travelers will carry tracking devices to make sure they don’t break quarantine.

The dates for this initial experiment have been pushed back, and there’s even conflicting information about when the first plane will arrive. The BBC says it’ll be this Tuesday, while the Communist Party run China Daily says it’s coming next Sunday.

In any event, it’s an important step for Thailand’s tourism industry.

Last year, the country’s foreign visitor tally was just short of 40 million, and more than a quarter of them came from China.