Indonesia ends quarantine requirement for overseas travellers

Travellers walk through the international arrivals hall at Ngurah Rai International Airport in Tuban near Denpasar on Indonesia's resort island of Bali on Feb 16, 2022, after a Singapore Airlines flight arrived following a nearly two-year break due to Covid-19. (AFP file photo)

Indonesia is lifting all quarantine rules for international travellers to end two years of border closure, following its neighbours in easing restrictions as Southeast Asia moves past the worst of the Omicron wave.

The government will broaden quarantine-free travel to the rest of the country, while still requiring a negative Covid-19 test result, Tourism Minister Sandiaga Uno said in his weekly briefing on Monday. The reopening comes after a successful two-week trial of quarantine-free travel to Bali, Batam and Bintan islands, where the spread of the virus remained low, he added.

Southeast Asia’s largest economy has steadily chipped away at its remaining virus restrictions, most recently by allowing domestic travellers to board flights without having to present negative test results. Daily coronavirus cases have dropped more than 90% from the peak in mid-February, even as deaths remain high, reaching 139 people on Sunday.

The border reopening is set to bolster Indonesia’s role as the host of the Group of 20 summit this year. The country aims to use the flurry of meetings among officials from the world’s biggest economies to help revive tourism revenue in Bali and nearby islands.

Neighbours Vietnam, Malaysia and Philippines have already announced that they’re waiving quarantine rules for international travellers, while Thailand and Cambodia eased testing requirements to bolster tourism. The industry accounted for 12.1% of Southeast Asia’s economic output and employed 42 million workers in 2019, according to the Asian Development Bank. 

More places are easing their Covid polices even when cases remain high. Hong Kong is lifting a travel ban from several countries and halving mandatory quarantine, as Chief Executive Carrie Lam acknowledged that residents’ tolerance for the restrictions was fading.

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