Business Travel in Asia Pacific: Updates on Entry Ban, Vaccine and Quarantine Requirements – Publications

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June 10, 2022

As the COVID-19 landscape continues to evolve, multinational employers face many questions, challenges and opportunities when considering how to resume global business travel. To assist interested parties in planning travel to Asia Pacific, we have outlined current entry bans and vaccination and quarantine requirements in China, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore. These guidelines are subject to rapid change based on the global and local pandemic situation.

China

China’s borders are currently closed, and entry remains strictly controlled. Only the following categories of travelers may enter the country:

  • Chinese Nationals: Citizens of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and residents of Hong Kong/Macao/Taiwan who have valid travel documents to enter China (for example, a repatriation permit or Tai Bao Cheng), but prior permission is required from some sites and recommended for everyone
  • Non-Chinese citizens with long-term entry approval: Chinese green card holders and holders of valid residence permits within the categories of work, personal matters, reunification, as long as the purpose of entry is the same as the purpose of the residence permit
  • Non-Chinese citizens with short-term entry approval: holders of valid entry visas issued after travel ban under the PU/TE invitation letter route or the visa facilitation policy track

Applications for visas remain under close scrutiny against COVID-19-related conditions within the People’s Republic of China and where the applicant is located, but the PU/TE invitation letter requirements for Z (work), S (family reunification), and Q have been cancelled. (relatives of Chinese citizens or those with permanent residence in China) visa applicants.

Boarding Requirements

There are entry test requirements beginning seven days prior to departure. Travelers are generally required to report their travel details to the Chinese embassy or consulate in the city of departure to obtain a “green” health code before boarding the plane.

The Chinese government has relaxed restrictions on travelers from selected locations by removing requirements for a seven-day pre-departure quarantine and testing for S-protein antibodies or N IgM antibodies for passengers vaccinated with inactivated vaccines and unvaccinated passengers. The test requirements are being replaced by a combination of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and antigen tests performed at specified intervals.

For the above categories of travelers, they must obtain a “blue” health code from the local Chinese embassy or consulate.

It should be noted that for those with a history of COVID-19 infection, the “green” health code may be difficult to obtain, and will not generally be issued if travel is not necessary or urgent.

Quarantine requirements and trial program

The general mandatory quarantine period is 14-21 days, and many cities have their own quarantine requirements.

There is currently a pilot program in place to reduce the quarantine period from 14 days to 10 days for incoming travelers and close contacts of COVID-19 cases. This pilot program is limited to a few cities including Shanghai, Ningbo, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Xiamen, Chengdu, Dalian and Qingdao.

Some locations, such as Beijing, are more restrictive and have additional requirements. Currently, international travelers wishing to visit Beijing must generally quarantine for 21 days and test negative for COVID-19 within 48 hours of arriving in Beijing. Once in Beijing, they must submit another negative COVID-19 test within 24-48 hours, depending on the requirements of the local neighborhood commission, and may not visit public places, including office buildings, for an additional seven days after that.

Citizens of the People’s Republic of China are leaving China

Although there are no official restrictions on PRC citizens leaving China, applications for passport approval and exit are currently pending or significantly lengthened. If there are severe restrictions from the traveler’s departure city, it may be possible to use a third location as a temporary stop before entering China. We give two examples below:

  • From Hong Kong to China: PCR test before departure within 48 hours of departure
  • Singapore to China: Seven-day self-isolation before departure, two PCR tests at different designated testing institutions (one on the second day and one within 24 hours before departure), a “blue” health code, and one antigen test within six hours prior to boarding.

When using a third location to enter China, travelers must first comply with the boarding and quarantine requirements for that city before traveling to China.

Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, there has been a gradual decline in social distancing measures. Currently, all fully vaccinated travelers can enter Hong Kong, regardless of whether they are Hong Kong residents or not. Passengers who have not been vaccinated can only enter Hong Kong if they are coming from mainland China, Macau or Taiwan.

  • Entry from mainland China, Macao and Taiwan: Travelers must follow the 14-day quarantine requirement in personal accommodations or observe a combination of quarantine and self-health monitoring depending on vaccination status.
  • Outside of those jurisdictions: Vaccinated travelers should observe a 14-day quarantine at the designated quarantine hotel, with a possible option to break this down into seven days in the hotel and seven-day self-health monitoring.

In addition, the Hong Kong Immigration Department has recently relaxed the visa extension policy whereby the visa can be extended abroad, if the relevant requirements are met. There is also a new vaccination mandate as of June 2022; To be considered fully immune, a person must have had three doses of the vaccine, as opposed to two.

The country’s risk rating is subject to rapid change based on the local pandemic situation. The latest list of countries and quarantine requirements are published on the Hong Kong government custom website.

Japan

Currently, all travelers, including Japanese nationals, entering Japan are, in principle, required to obtain an appropriate (negative) COVID-19 test certificate within 72 hours prior to departure for Japan and must take a COVID-19 test at the airport .

From June 1, 2022, the Japanese government will classify countries or regions into three categories (“red”, “yellow” and “blue”), and the following quarantine requirements will apply to travelers, depending on the traveler’s vaccination status and the countries or regions the traveler comes from .

category

Does the traveler have a valid vaccination certificate?

immigration test

Quarantine period

red

(4)

number

Implement

3 days in quarantine

(The test results are negative in residence)

yes

Staying at home for 3 days and the result of the voluntary test is negative

(stay home for 7 days if no test)

yellow

(99)

number

yes

no quarantine

blue

(98)

number

yes

There are 98 countries and regions classified as blue, including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

In addition, the upper limit for arrivals will be raised from 10,000 people to 20,000 people.

As of June 10, 2022, foreign nationals who (a) recently come to Japan for a short-term stay (not more than three months) for business or business purposes, (b) recently come to Japan for tourism purposes (limited to group trips with tour operators where he works Travel agent as a sponsor in Japan and foreign nationals coming from countries or regions in the blue category), or (c) newly come to Japan for a long-term stay, in principle, they are allowed to enter Japan if the sponsoring company in Japan completes the entry registration and return tracking system (ERFS), and a Japanese visa was issued to these foreign nationals through a Japanese consulate. For long-term stays, foreign nationals must also obtain a certificate of eligibility for visa applications from the regional immigration office. It has been nearly two years since the last time tourists were allowed into Japan.

Singapore

Singapore is in the process of lifting most of its social distancing and travel restrictions. While individuals are still required to wear masks indoors, there are no requirements for this while outdoors, and mandatory contact tracing requirements have been relaxed.

On the immigration and travel front, there are currently no countries in the “Restricted Category” travel list. However, many pre-departure and post-arrival testing and quarantine requirements will still apply for non-vaccinated travelers.

In general, fully vaccinated travelers can enter Singapore without pre-departure testing and without any quarantine requirements on arrival. Travelers are considered to have been fully vaccinated if they have (a) received the full regimen of WHO Emergency Use List (EUL) procedures and have met the minimum dose interval period; or (b) contracted COVID-19 prior to vaccination and received at least one dose of any World Health Organization (EUL) vaccine for at least 28 days from the first diagnosis of COVID-19 infection. In the latter case, travelers must provide acceptable evidence of the first positive diagnosis of COVID-19. Travelers who are not fully vaccinated must take the test within two days of their departure for Singapore and quarantine for seven days upon arrival, with a negative test at the end of the seven days.

In addition, all travelers with a history of travel to countries/regions in Africa and Latin America with a risk of yellow fever are also required to have a yellow fever vaccination certificate. If not obtained, they may be turned away from Singapore or placed in quarantine for up to six days upon arrival.

While Singapore is generally open to international travelers, the same cannot be said for immigration. Singapore’s immigration policies increasingly focus on creating and supporting the “Singapore core”, which is made up of citizens and permanent residents. Changes to job posting requirements, the need to establish the ability to financially support employment, and changes to eligible salaries in the past year further tightened the flow of immigration into Singapore. This is not expected to change in the next 12 to 18 months.

How can we help

Our Asia Pacific immigration team can help navigate the landscape and provide recommendations for travel planning. Our services include entry eligibility assessments, quarantine exemption assessments, and related visa/entry/quarantine exemption approval applications.

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Contacts

If you have any questions or would like more information about the issues discussed in this act, please contact any of the following Morgan Lewis attorneys:

Hong Kong
Vivian Yu

China
As Leslie Legourner

Tokyo
Tomoko Fuminaga

Singapore
Jonathan Tang *

Washington DC
Shannon A Donnelly

*Attorney at Morgan Lewis Stamford LLC, a Singapore law firm affiliated with Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

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