South Korea Eases Covid Restrictions As Australia, Thailand Reopen Borders

Several countries began lifting pandemic-related restrictions Monday, with Australia, Thailand and Israel allowing some forms of international travel and South Korea reopening certain public spaces even as other parts of the world remain steadfastly closed because of the pandemic.

A woman embraces her brother after arriving on a flight from Los Angeles at Sydney Airport on Nov. … [+] 1, 2021 as Australia open its borders for the first time in 19 months. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)


Key Facts

There were many joyful reunions at Australian airports as the nation opened its borders for the first time in more than a year and a half to millions of citizens who can now enter without having to quarantine and travel without a permit.

Australia’s vaccination rates are on the rise after the delta variant found its way into the country over the summer despite strict border measures.

Neighboring New Zealand is also set to lift some of its rigorous travel restrictions, allowing visitors from Pacific nations including Samoa and Tonga to enter without quarantining.

Elsewhere in the region, tourism-dependent Thailand reopened to vaccinated travelers from more than 60 countries deemed low risk, including China, the United States and most of Europe in a move seen as a “test” for tourism in the pandemic era—despite continuing to register nearly 10,000 cases daily.

Israel is also welcoming foreign tourists who are fully vaccinated but not if it’s been over six months since their most recent dose, with the exception that travelers vaccinated more than six months prior take a Covid test every 72 hours for the first two weeks of their visit.

South Korea has put in place new measures as part of a campaign for “living with Covid-19” that includes lifting restaurant curfews, reopening sports venues to half capacity, and introducing vaccine passports for bars, nightclubs and indoor gyms.

Big Number
$4 trillion. That’s how much the pandemic’s effect on tourism could cost the global economy, according to a United Nations estimate earlier this year.
Key Background
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that Americans not travel abroad until they are fully vaccinated. And despite Monday’s reopenings, many countries show no signs of easing border restrictions any time soon. Japan, for one, remains closed for the foreseeable future even as Covid rates there plummet.
What To Watch For
The U.S. announced it will reopen its land borders with Canada and Mexico to the fully vaccinated later this month after over a year and a half of restrictions.

Further Reading
“Thailand, Australia, Israel ease travel curbs, lockdowns bite elsewhere” (Reuters)
“Australians reunite as border reopens after 20-month ban” (Associated Press)
“S.Korea eases curbs, imposes vaccine passports in ‘living with COVID-19’ campaign” (Reuters)
“Thailand reopens to vaccinated tourists from over 60 nations” (BBC News)
“Tears and hugs as Australia reopens international borders” (Al Jazeera)
“Thailand’s Big Reopening Set to Test Pandemic-Era Tourism” (Bloomberg)
“New Zealand to loosen travel restrictions triggered by COVID pandemic” (New York Daily News)
“US Will Reopen Land Borders In November For Fully Vaccinated Visitors” (Forbes)
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