Asia Minute: Regional Quarantine Quarrels

May 22, 2020

Travel quarantines are getting more attention around the world. The two-week isolations help block the spread of the coronavirus, but they also bring their own challenges. Some of those have popped up this week in the Asia Pacific.

Australian government officials say their citizens should be exempt from a 14-day quarantine expected to begin soon in the United Kingdom. The UK has been late in proposing a quarantine, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson is still considering the details about how to impose one.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports Australia is lobbying to be the first country to be allowed to skip the quarantine — arguing that its citizens are at low risk of carrying the coronavirus.

Australia remains among a sizeable number of countries that bar entry to all foreigners. It’s had that policy in place since mid-March, when it also adopted a policy of 14-day quarantines for returning citizens.

Even for countries that have loosened the rules for foreigners or are considering it, 14-day quarantines remain an essential part of the travel picture.

Malaysia announced this week that anyone coming into the country will have to pay for a two-week hotel stay as part of their quarantine — although returning citizens will be charged half price.

In South Korea Thursday, for the first time police arrested a foreigner for violating quarantine. Reuters reports a 23-year old Japanese man was detained after a combination of surveillance video and credit card transactions showed he had broken quarantine during eight days of a 14-day visit.

The man is now in police custody and awaiting trial.