Indonesia, Malaysia to ease COVID curbs on foreign visitors further

Omicron coronavirus variant continues to spread, in Jakarta
People wearing protective face masks enjoy a stroll along a skywalk bridge as the Omicron coronavirus variant continues to spread, in Jakarta, Indonesia, February 7, 2022. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

JAKARTA/KUALA LUMPUR, March 5 (Reuters) - Indonesia is considering a quarantine waiver for foreign visitors to its holiday island of Bali from next week, officials said on Saturday, while neighbour Malaysia announced the removal of curbs on travellers from Thailand and Cambodia.

Indonesia and Malaysia have imposed some of the strictest entry procedures in Asia to try to contain COVID-19 outbreaks and keep new variants at bay, but the restrictions have battered their tourism sectors.

The Indonesian waiver for visitors vaccinated against the coronavirus was under discussion but likely be decided by President Joko Widodo on Monday, said a spokesperson for the coordinating maritime affairs and investment ministry.

Jodi Mahardi also said visitors from 23 countries, including Australia, the United States, Germany, and Netherlands, would qualify for a visa on arrival under revised rules.

Ida Ayu Indah Yustikarini of Bali's government tourism office also confirmed the quarantine waiver plan to Reuters but said the final decision was with the central government.

Malaysia will allow vaccinated arrivals from Cambodia and Thailand to skip quarantine from March 15. Several daily flights fly from Kuala Lumpur to Phnom Penh, Bangkok and the island of Phuket.

Malaysia has so far waived quarantine for arrivals from Singapore, while Indonesia has since October granted entry to visitors from specified countries to Bali and has progressively reduced quarantine time to three days.

The moves follow neighbours the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand, which have waived quarantine in return for COVID testing before departure and upon arrival.

Reporting by Stefanno Sulaiman and Stanley Widianto in Jakarta, and Liz Lee in Kuala Lumpur; Editing by Martin Petty and William Mallard

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