See what countries are reopening or adjusting their Covid-19 restrictions by heading to our roundup of the latest reopening updates in Asia Pacific.
As vaccination rates increase by the day and people all around the world start accepting that the Covid-19 virus could be part and parcel of their daily lives, more destinations are lifting travel entry requirements entirely for travellers.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) says that Covid-19 has entered the endemic stage for many countries and the easing of borders is being set into motion. IATA’s latest study of travel restrictions for the world’s 50 major air travel markets revealed that vaccinated travellers have increasingly more destinations to travel to.
In this article, we highlight several destinations popular among Asian travellers which they can travel to without being subjected to various Covid-19-related tests and quarantines.
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From 7 September, fully vaccinated travellers to Japan are no longer required to present a negative Covid-19 test result, but the country only accepts the following vaccines: Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Janssen, Bharat Biotech, or Novavax.
Previously, travellers could only explore the land of cherry blossoms by booking with a travel agency, but with the recent changes, Japan is now free for FITs (free independent travellers) to explore at their leisure.
2. Hong Kong
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On 26 September, Hong Kong officially lifted its hotel quarantine requirement for the first time in over 2.5 years since the pandemic. All international arrivals will now be able to return home or to their accommodation of choice upon reaching Hong Kong but will still have to self-monitor for three days.
In addition to the new "0+3" eased protocol, travellers will no longer have to present a negative nucleic acid testing report prior to boarding. Instead, they'll have to conduct a self-arranged rapid antigen test within 24 hours prior to the scheduled time of departure and submit their negative results via the online Health & Quarantine Information Declaration of the Department of Health.
Previously, fully vaccinated travellers bound for Hong Kong were mandated to both present a negative test result prior to boarding and follow the “3+4” quarantine arrangement. This means three days of hotel isolation (with daily rapid tests) followed by four days of home stay.
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China is considering easing entry requirements for some foreign visitors. On 19 September, the ministry of culture and tourism released a draft policy document outlining policy changes that could see foreigners allowed to visit the nation’s border tourism sites — but only with a tour group, CNN reported.
The draft policy document didn’t mention whether visitors would be subjected to China’s quarantine rules, which require a week-long hotel quarantine followed by three days of home observation.
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Switzerland has fully reverted to life as it was before the pandemic, with all restrictions dropped. Even unvaccinated travellers are welcomed to visit the country now just as fully vaccinated travellers are able to. Although local authorities maintain a list of countries where variants of concern are circulating — with travellers from these countries required to follow certain health-related measures at the border — there are currently no countries or regions on this list, so all travellers can enter freely.
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All travellers, regardless of vaccination status and country of origin, are welcomed with open arms into Greece with effect from 1 May. Visitors, vaccinated or not, will no longer be required to present vaccination or Covid-19 recovery certificates, or be subjected to on-arrival quarantine, though mask-wearing in indoor venues is still obligatory.
There is still a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) in effect, of which its completion is optional for visitors. This PLF will serve the purpose of allowing travellers to issue an EU Certificate of a positive or negative test.
Travellers who have been diagnosed with Covid-19 anytime during their visit may choose to isolate at their booked hotel.
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All Vietnam destinations are free to visit with no Covid-19 testing requirements from 15 May. Vietnam has also scrapped the need for Covid vaccination passports or certificates, effectively allowing international visitors of all vaccination status to enter the country.
Upon arrival, travellers need only provide proof of travel insurance covering Covid-19 treatment with a minimum coverage of US$10,000. Visitors will also be required to download the PC-Covid mobile app which must be presented to enter all establishments in Vietnam.
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Pre-travel clearance in Austria has been lifted and travellers don’t need to submit proof of vaccination status, recovery or tests. In all provinces except the capital Vienna, masks are optional in all indoor spaces. In the capital, masks remain compulsory in pharmacies and on public transport.
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The vaccinated and unvaccinated alike are permitted to enter Israel from 21 May, with neither the need for Covid-19 tests nor quarantine upon arrival.
Israel has also dropped the requirement for masks on international flights, but this relaxation of rules is dependent on each individual airline’s safety protocols and whether the airline requires passengers to mask up or not.
Those who have been diagnosed with Covid in the destination from which the flight to Israel departs from, and have not yet recovered, will not be permitted entry to the country.
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With effect from 18 May, travellers entering Indonesia will not be required to take any Covid-19 tests, though they must be vaccinated with at least two Covid-19 vaccine doses. Prior to entering Indonesia, international travellers are required to download the PeduliLindungi mobile app and complete their user profile and entry application.
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From 1 August, all travellers are allowed to enter Malaysia regardless of their vaccination status and no pre-departure or on-arrival testing is required. It is recommended that visitors download the MySejahtera app before or after arrival to indicate their Covid-19 risk status while exploring the country.
In early September, Malaysia dropped the last of its significant Covid restrictions by making masks optional in indoor settings. However, masking up is still mandatory for those who’ve tested positive, as well as in healthcare facilities and on public transport. Some businesses, such as hair salons, may still request visitors to mask up, and everyone is encouraged to wear one in highly congested areas and in places of worship such as mosques.
In the event that either a traveller or citizen is diagnosed Covid-19 positive, they'll have to observe a mandatory seven-day quarantine, or test negative on a professionally-administered RTK-Ag test on Day 4.
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From 30 September, Thailand will end its nation-wide Covid-19 Emergency Decree, as the country reclassifies Covid-19 from ‘a dangerous communicable disease’ to ‘a communicable disease under surveillance’ from 1 October 2022.
With Thailand officially moving into the post-pandemic era come 1 October 2022, international travellers to the country will no longer be required to show proof of vaccination or antigen test results, while infected people with mild or no symptoms will not need to enter isolation.
As well, the wearing of masks in crowded areas is still encouraged but no longer mandated.
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Singapore further eased its travel requirements at the end of August when it announced that all travellers will be welcomed to the island nation regardless of their Covid-19 vaccination status. Those who have not received the jab will need to show proof of travel insurance covering Covid-19 with at least $30,000 of medical expenses, and take a PCR or professionally administered rapid antigen test two days before departure.
Singapore has dropped its contact tracing measures that mandated people to digitally check-in to all establishments, though showing proof of vaccination at events with more than 500 attendees, nightclubs and F&B outlets still stands. Mask requirements have also been relaxed further, and they’re now optional in indoor and outdoor places except in healthcare settings and on public transport including some ferries.
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After a long period of strict entry requirements, Australia cast off its rigorous Covid measures in July to welcome all visa holders with no need to provide evidence of vaccination status. It also scrapped the Digital Passenger Declaration and Maritime Travel Declaration, and in September removed the mask mandate on flights travelling to the country.
14. Czech Republic
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The Czech Republic’s Ministry of Health announced that as of 9 April, Covid-19 travel restrictions have been lifted for both foreign tourists and Czech citizens. Travellers no longer have to fill in an arrival form or submit proof of vaccination or a previous infection to enter the country.
However, various transport providers (plane, bus, train) operating to, from, and within Czech Republic may have their own set of safety protocols, thus the government encourages travellers to verify the conditions required from these transport carriers (e.g. whether Covid-19 tests and vaccinations are mandated for boarding).
15. South Africa
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Cyril Ramaphosa, president of South Africa, announced on 22 March that fully vaccinated travellers entering the country no longer need to produce a negative Covid-19 test with immediate effect. In addition to that, other remaining Covid-19 curbs have also been dropped. Mask wearing will no longer be required in public outdoor spaces, and the 50% capacity are allowed at event venues for people who are vaccinated and test negative on a PCR test.
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Cambodia was widely acknowledged by industry members as "ASEAN's most open destination" when it removed testing and quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travellers in March.
Those who are unvaccinated are also no longer required to quarantine on arrival, but must return a negative antigen rapid test that will be conducted at all entry points into the country for a charge of US$5.00 per test. In the event of a positive test result, travellers with mild symptoms may isolate at accommodation as determined by the Ministry of Health, while those with more severe symptoms must isolate at a designated state Covid-19 treatment centre.
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Back in July 2020, the Maldives had been one of the first few countries to open without quarantine requirements. Since 4 March this year, the country scrapped all remaining travel requirements, meaning that fully vaccinated international travellers need not present a negative Covid-19 test to enter the country.
Furthermore, the Maldives has removed its mask mandate, allowing visitors to fully take in the country’s fresh air and truly experience the wide breadth of unique experiences on this island paradise.
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As of 26 February, the UAE will no longer require PCR tests for fully vaccinated visitors. Under the new relaxed guidelines outlined by the National Emergency, Crisis and Disasters Management Authority, vaccinated visitors need only show a vaccine certificate with an approved QR code. Unvaccinated travellers are allowed entry, but they will still have to present a negative pre-arrival PCR test result within 48 hours.
UAE has also dropped the need for physical distancing in public places. Masks remain mandatory in public indoor spaces, but optional outdoors.
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From 18 March, both vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers are free to travel to England without taking any Covid-19 tests, quarantining, or completing a UK passenger locator form. Previously, the Covid test and quarantine exemption only applied to fully vaccinated travellers.
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Guinness fans, rejoice! Starting from 6 March, international travellers visiting Ireland can do so without any Covid-19 restrictions. The Irish government announced that travellers from other countries are no longer required to present proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid. They are also exempted from the requirement to fill in the passenger locator form.
Travellers planning to go to Northern Ireland (to visit the first official Game of Thrones Studio Tour perhaps?) can also rejoice over the UK’s relaxed travel requirements, meaning they’re no longer required to show proof of vaccination, take any pre-departure or on arrival testing, or complete a passenger locator form.
21. The Netherlands
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The Netherlands is one of the latest countries to completely remove all Covid-19 related travel restrictions and requirements. On 17 September, the government announced that all travellers entering the Netherlands, including those from countries outside the EU/Schengen area, will not be subjected to any testing or vaccination requirements.
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Italy lifted all its Covid-related entry requirements for international travellers on 1 June, while citizens and visitors are no longer required to mask up on planes or at indoor shows and sporting events. The use of high-quality masks is still mandatory on ships, ferries, trains, buses, and other forms of regional public transport, and recommended in all indoor spaces and at crowded outdoor events.
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The land of fire and ice has lifted the entirety of its Covid-19 biosecurity measures with effect from 25 February. This includes border policies, social distancing, mask mandate, and gathering limitations. International travellers can now visit Iceland’s world-famous glaciers without having to present a negative test and show proof of Covid-19 vaccination.
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Starting 1 April, fully vaccinated travellers visiting Canada need not provide a negative Covid-19 test. Travellers may still be selected out of random for testing, much like how travellers are randomly selected for baggage checks, but they will not be required to quarantine while awaiting their test results.