New wave of international flight suspensions in Asia
With the surge of coronavirus cases and the new mutation discovered in the United Kingdom, countries are closing their borders to international arrivals.
On December 30, India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) extended the suspension of scheduled commercial international flights until January 31, 2021. In the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, India suspended its international flights and the restrictions were to be lifted on December 31, 2020. However, with the resurgence of new coronavirus cases, the date was postponed.
DGCA announced that the restrictions do not apply to international all-cargo operations and flights approved by the DGCA. The directorate also outlined that “international scheduled flights may be allowed on select routes by the competent authority on a case-to-case basis.”
Flights from the UK were suspended by the DGCA until January 7, 2021. After that date, the flights will continue to operate but will be strictly regulated.
“Decision has been taken to extend the temporary suspension of flights to & from the UK till 7 January 2021. Thereafter strictly regulated resumption will take place for which details will be announced shortly,” Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Twitter on December 30, 2020.
Since March 2020, India was mainly operating domestic flights and international flights within the formed travel bubbles. Starting from July 2020, India has formed air bubble pacts with 24 countries including the US, the UK, the UAE, Kenya, Bhutan and France. The travel bubble should remain while the international travel ban is in action.
Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced the ban of foreign arrivals starting January 1, 2021.
An exception will be made for resident visa holders, diplomats, travelers with special entry permits, spouses and children of Taiwanese citizens, those arriving for humanitarian reasons. The same measures apply to passengers from Hong Kong, Macau, and China.
From January 15, 2020, on top of providing a negative COVID-19 test, arriving passengers will have to quarantine. Upon arrival they will have to provide a proof of the location of their intended quarantine.
As of December 31, 2020, Taiwan has reported a total of 799 cases, most of them imported.
Effective December 30, 2020, the Philippines restricted access to their borders to travelers coming from Australia, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. The new ban comes in an effort to control the spread of the new COVID-19 variant and will be in place until January 15, 2020.
“Travelers from any other country that subsequently reports the presence of the new Covid-19 strain shall likewise be banned from entering the Philippines,” the country's Transportation Department said in an advisory.
Philippine Airlines (PAL) spokesperson Cielo Villaluna said the airline will continue flying to four of the 20 countries on the ban list but will accept only Filipino nationals. The four operated flights are from Canada, Singapore, Japan, and Hong Kong.
Myanmar's Ministry of Transport and Communications has extended the suspension of international flights until the end of January 2021.
The measures will continue to be extended as the spread of the disease remains increasing in most of the countries and regions, according to the ministry’s statement.
Other countries in the Asia-Pacific region have also witnessed a surge of new cases. Indonesia barred the arrivals of international visitors for a two-week period starting from January 1, 2021. Likewise, Japan’s government suspended foreign visitors from entering the country beginning on December 28, 2020.
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