Cambodia Lifts Ban on Flights from Malaysia, Philippines

The rule was in place for nearly 15 months to stop the spread of Covid-19 from other parts of Southeast Asia.

A blind stone door at the 10th-century Angkorian temple of Banteay Srei. (Photo: JJ Ying/Unsplash)

Cambodian authorities have greenlighted the resumption of direct flights from Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines, ending a flight ban that was first imposed on August 11, 2020. The move took effect over the weekend, following a directive from Prime Minister Hun Sen to reopen air links with selected ASEAN countries. This paves the way for AirAsia and Malaysia Airlines to relaunch passenger services from Kuala Lumpur to Phnom Penh (and, in AirAsia’s case, Siem Reap), and for Philippine Airlines to restart flights from Manila.

Health officials said that the decision was made “in a bid to reopen the country and resume economic activities in all sectors, including aviation and air transportation, in the context of Covid-19.” Cambodia is gearing up for a phased reopening in the wake of a successful vaccine rollout that has seen just over 80 percent of its 16 million residents fully inoculated so far.

The Cambodian government recently resumed issuing tourist visas, although all applications must be made in advance. Eased quarantine rules came into force on October 18, allowing returning Cambodians and foreign travelers who have been fully vaccinated to spend seven days in mandatory self-isolation. Meanwhile, fully vaccinated diplomats, government officials, technical experts, and foreign investors are now eligible for only three days’ hotel quarantine. But the self-isolation period remains at 14 days for those who have only received one dose or are not yet vaccinated.

Aside from an official vaccine certificate, visitors must show proof of a negative result from a coronavirus test conducted within 72 hours of arrival. Other requirements for entry include health insurance covering Covid-19, as well as a confirmed booking at a quarantine hotel or a US$1,000 deposit paid on arrival to cover the costs of a week’s accommodation and meals. (Travelers who are not fully vaccinated may have to set aside US$2,000 for their 14-day quarantine.) Fully inoculated tourists can also expect to undergo a rapid antigen test upon arrival and a PCR test at the end of the quarantine period.

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