ACTIVE ASIA’S COVID-19 RESPONSE

OUR APPROACH

The emergence of the Covid-19 virus and surrounding press coverage has understandably generated questions and concerns around planning clients travel when the virus is still spreading, and official government travel advice continues to change.  As a highly personalised and service-driven company, Active Asia is keen to support all our clients in helping you to make the best possible decisions around your clients travel plans.  Every client’s situation is different, and so we always make recommendations on a case-by-case basis, but the below gives some general guidelines of how we are managing the Covid-19 situation:

We are closely monitoring and managing this situation as it evolves; we receive daily updates from our local contacts in-country and carefully review any news and official changes in travel advice from the MFAT into destinations we operate in.

Should official travel advice change to recommend against travel to your chosen destination, we will work actively with you to reroute or reschedule your client itinerary.  Again, with Active Asia you will have a personal contact to speak with about your clients plans and our 24/7 emergency number while you are travelling; we are actively communicating any changes in travel advice for clients due to depart within 90 days, and are always available to speak about any concerns or questions you may have, regardless of when or where you may be travelling.

Despite the extensive news coverage around travel disruptions, the vast majority of our clients are continuing to travel as planned and are experiencing no disruptions to their itineraries.

As always, our primary priority is the health, wellbeing and happiness of our clients and staff, and we will continue to take any action necessary to support those travelling with us as fully as possible.

FAQ

My clients are travelling with you in the next 8 weeks. What if MFAT advises against non-essential travel to my clients destination?
If you are due to travel to a country on which the MFAT has imposed, or does in future impose, a travel restriction, we will be in contact immediately to discuss the nature of the advice and the most viable options for rerouting or postponing your trip. As with our entire service, we appreciate that every client and every itinerary is different and will therefore review each case individually to agree on the most appropriate course of action to fit your personal circumstances and situation.
My clients are travelling with you in the next 8 weeks. What if the country changes its advisory level to their destination?
If you are due to travel to a country on which New Zealand has raised, or does in future raise, its advisory state, we will be in contact immediately to discuss the nature of the advice and the most viable options for rerouting or postponing your trip. As with our entire service, we appreciate that every client and every itinerary is different and will therefore review each case individually to agree on the most appropriate course of action to fit your personal circumstances and situation.
My clients are travelling with you in 8+ weeks. What do you advise?
The circumstances around Covid-19 are evolving on an hourly basis; at this point, our recommendation would be to continue to monitor the situation in the hopeful expectation that your chosen destination will be safe for travel at that stage; if however you would like to consider pre-emptively postponing your trip we would be happy to review the possibilities with you.
What happens if I choose to postpone my dates to a season when rates are higher or lower?
If you wish to consider travelling in a season when rates are higher than you originally booked, we will calculate & communicate to you the increase in the price of the trip, which you would then need to pay as a supplement according to our normal payment terms. If you choose to travel in a season when rates are lower, we would be able to offer you a refund of the difference between your original booking and your new booking.
My clients are keen to book a trip, what if MFAT'S advise changes?
We constantly monitor changes in travel advice to the destinations in which we operate – should this advice change in the lead-up to your trip we will communicate this to you immediately and at that time can discuss the right course of action, as detailed above.

LESS FEAR AND MORE CARE

A note from the owners.

Take a deep breath. Each morning, we wake to fresh news about the increasingly fearful world we live in. Whilst the situation of Covid-19 and its rapid spread must not be underestimated, it’s fair to say that the level with which we are hit by superlatives and doomsday scenarios can be overwhelming. Even for the most positive of souls.

And all of us are feeling it. Not just in our emotions but in our day to day behavior. It seems to be all-encompassing yet (some) people think it will become even more so. So, we wait. The world waits. And it hopes, prays and searches for a horizon that brings with it positive signs of Coronavirus abating.

Whilst we – as a travel operator – are in no way positioned to offer any expert view on how or when this situation will draw to a close, we do know that we need to find balance. Balance to counteract the levels of hyperbole, and a need to focus on the facts. More importantly, we need to focus on caring for each other and the world we inhabit. While extreme reactions to the virus might have an understandable rationale, there’s need to ensure that our responses are reasonable and measured.

With Active Asia, we created a travel company that is rooted in care. Caring for our staff, our clients and the people and partners we work with around Asia. Care has been a by-word for how we operate. And in times like these, it’s important for us to remind ourselves that caring will always defeat fearing. Anxiety-driven clicks and shares won’t change this fact. But they might injure it.

“We need to focus on caring for each other and the world we inhabit.”

So, what does caring mean to us? It means looking after the people who make Active Asia what it is. It’s about caring for our staff, in our NZ or VN offices, or for those travelling around the Asia – and for those on the ground. It means caring for our partners, some of whom we’ve worked with for over 22 years.

Importantly, it also means listening to the needs of our clients. For some, that means moving planned trips to other, safer destinations. For others, it means working hard to find new dates or helping to plan travel for the future when these challenging times have passed. And for many, it means providing reassurance that travel to many parts of Asia is still absolutely fine – while encouraging them to get out there and keep exploring this incredible planet of ours.

Caring also means supporting the many wonderful people, partners and communities around the Asia who we’ve worked with for years. Fear-driven conversations and knee-jerk reactions will only hurt the livelihoods of communities, people and places for whom travel has always been their lifeblood. And these are some of the most spectacular and unique places in the world.

That’s why we want to continue to support and encourage people to travel to such places. Our staff will be on hand to help our clients, new and old, to achieve their travel dreams. Paying heed to their concerns while providing help in navigating the fluid and often confusing messages that are circulating our media and social networks.

In short, caring means finding balance. It means continuing to celebrate this planet of ours and making sure we don’t let down the communities for whom travel is a way of life. And it’s about providing care, information and support in times of considerable stress.

Ultimately, we’ll continue to monitor Covid-19 as the story develops. But while we wait, we will still be here, ready to talk – and always caring.

Lance and Valentina
Owners of Active Asia

31 March 2020

Japan
The Summer Olympics in Tokyo have now been officially postponed due to coronavirus. Organisers are looking at 23 July 2021 as a tentative start date.
In order to protect itself from the effects of COVID-19 in countries outside of Asia, Japan is now restricting entry by citizens of some 72 nations including most western nations and many Asian nations as well.
Myanmar
Effective 30 March, Myanmar will no longer allow international flights to enter the country until 13 April.
Myanmar now has 5 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country

21 March 2020

Vietnam
Effective 23 March 00:00h Vietnam Airlines to suspend all international flights until the end of April. They will offer free flight rescheduling and destination changes for all passengers of international flights issued before 25 March.
Laos
Effective from 20 March Laos has suspended Visa on Arrival and e-Visa facilities for all countries until 20 April
China
As of Wednesday there have been no new infections in China. This milestone is the first solid indication that China is turning the corner on COVID-19 and gives us all a glimmer of hope that there’s an end in sight to all of this. China is now poised to become travel-friendly again by June this year.

19 March 2020

Some uplifting news!
China has closed down its last coronavirus hospital. Not enough new cases to support them.

Doctors in India have been successful in treating Coronavirus. Combination of drugs used: Lopinavir, Retonovir, Oseltamivir along with Chlorphenamine. They are going to suggest same medicine, globally.

Researchers of the Erasmus Medical Center claim to have found an antibody against coronavirus.

A 103-year-old Chinese grandmother has made a full recovery from COVID-19 after being treated for 6 days in Wuhan, China.

Apple reopens all 42 china stores.

Cleveland Clinic developed a COVID-19 test that gives results in hours, not days.

Good news from South Korea, where the number of new cases is declining.

Italy is hit hard, experts say, only because they have the oldest population in Europe.

Scientists in Israel likely to announce the development of a coronavirus vaccine.

3 Maryland coronavirus patients fully recovered; able to return to everyday life.

A network of Canadian scientists are making excellent progress in Covid-19 research.

A San Diego biotech company is developing a Covid-19 vaccine in collaboration with Duke University and National University of Singapore.

Tulsa County’s first positive COVID-19 case has recovered. This individual has had two negative tests, which is the indicator of recovery.

All 7 patients who were getting treated for at Safdarjung hospital in New Delhi have recovered.

Plasma from newly recovered patients from Covid -19 can treat others infected by Covid-19.

Vietnam
Current snapshot of COVID-19 cases in Vietnam

Confirmed infections: 67
Recovered cases: 16
Deaths: 0
Suspected cases: 126
Quarantined: 31,659

Since the start of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, Vietnam has closely monitored the situation and installed a series of proactive, comprehensive measures to combat the spread of the virus within the country and prepare its public health facilities. Past experience with other epidemics places Vietnam in a strong position to protect its population as well as visitors passing through.

All visa applications to Vietnam for ALL nationalities have been now stopped until 17 April

ASEAN people & other citizens living/transit from ASEAN countries within 14 days will need to undergo centralised quarantine for 14 days from midnight today.

A health declaration form needs to be filled in on arrival in Vietnam by all passengers. The multilingual form can be filled in advance online.

All cruises in Halong Bay have been cancelled until Thu, 26 March inclusive. The Lan Ha Bay section however is set to reopen 22 March, making it a great alternative.

Some other sites and hotels across Vietnam have also closed

Cambodia
The Cambodian government is looking to reduce the risk of COVID-19 by limiting the number of travellers entering from at-risk countries. Furthermore, while some nationalities can still arrive, they are instituting quarantine measures that make visiting the Kingdom risky at this time.

No Entry for citizens of Italy, Germany, Spain, France, USA until 11 April

All other nationalities may enter, but risk being quarantined.

No entry through waterways into the country.

Because no entry is allowed by travellers through waterways in the country, cruises between Vietnam and Cambodia are effectively shut down until further notice.

Laos
To date there have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country. Some screening is in place to prevent entry by infected visitors. There is no ban on travellers of any nationality from entering Laos.

No flights to or from China or South Korea.

Health screening upon arrival. Those with a fever will be brought to a hospital for testing. Those without a fever can continue as normal.

Myanmar
Officially, Myanmar is one of only a handful of countries in the world with no confirmed cases. Myanmar will limit the entry for travellers from at-risk countries including a mandatory quarantine for those who have visited them in the last 14 days.

No entry for Chinese Nationals.

Quarantine on arrival for citizens or visitors to the following countries in the last 14 days: China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, France.

Myanmar
Although there are still new infections popping up, the situation in Thailand has been relatively stable over the past two weeks.

Visa exemption for citizens of the USA, UK, Canada, France, Germany and most Western countries remains as normal.

Visa exemption for citizens of the 18 following countries have been cancelled until further notice: Italy, Hong Kong, South Korea, Mexico, Bulgaria, Bhutan, China, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Fiji, Georgia, India, Kazakhstan, Malta, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Uzbekistan & Vanuatu.

So far there are no major closures.

18 March 2020

Vietnam
Vietnam has stopped issuing visa for foreigners entering Vietnam from 00:00 of 18th of March 2020 for the next 30 days period.

All travelers (ANY NATIONALITY) entering Vietnam from another ASEAN country are subject to a health check and mandatory 14-day quarantine effective from 00:00 of 18th of March 2020 for the next 30 days.

For anyone still in Vietnam, they are fine and should be able to leave normally however travelling to other ASEAN countries could be problematic.

Most bars, clubs and tourist sites throughout the country are closed.

Cambodia
Cambodia announced a 30-day entry ban on nationals from Italy, Germany, Spain, France and the US; and a ban on cruise ships and riverboats entering Cambodia.

Entertainment venues have been forced to close, such as Phare circus, many bars and some tourist sites.

Myanmar
Myanmar immigration is blocking foreigners’ entry to Myanmar or requiring 14-day quarantine.
Malaysia
Malaysia has banned the entry of all foreign tourist from 18 March 2020 until at least 31 March 2020.
Thailand
The Kingdom of Thailand has announced all tourists arriving from China, Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, South Korea or Macao must have Health Certificate and Lab Test results to prove they are free from COVID-19.

The Health Certificate and Lab Test must be issued 2 days before departure.

Nationals of Mexico, Bulgaria, Bhutan, China, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Fiji, Georgia, India, Kazakhstan, Malta, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu can no longer get a visa on arrival. They must apply in advance. Tourists coming from Italy are no longer visa-exempt.

We understand many bars, restaurants, clubs and many tourist sites throughout the country will soon be closed.

Singapore
Singapore government requires 14 days Stay-At-Home quarantine for ANYONE arriving from ASEAN, Switzerland, UK, Japan.

Total ban on tourist arriving from Italy, France, Germany, and Spain.

Sri Lanka
All passenger arrivals to Sri Lanka to be suspended from midnight 18th March till 31st March. Departures and transit will continue.
Sri Lanka has extended the travel ban to a total of 14 countries, adding 3 more countries to the list.

The Civil Aviation Authority have announced that passengers from Qatar, Bahrain and Canada will not be permitted to land in Sri Lanka.
This travel ban will be put in place starting from midnight today (17th March).

Earlier this week, Sri Lanka imposed a travel ban for passengers arriving in the island from three coronavirus-hit countries – Iran, Italy & S. Korea, with effect from March 14th. It was later extended to a total of 11 countries.

Accordingly, all travels beginning from France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden and Austria were banned for two weeks with effect from March 15th.

16 March 2020

Vietnam
Vietnam is looking to protect itself and its citizens from the Covid19 threat and is implementing the necessary measures in accordance with recommendations of the WHO. We fully support all the efforts made by the Government and health authorities and we hope Vietnam, its neighbors and all countries leading the same battle will be successful in controlling and stopping the virus. We would like to see everybody returning soon to a life without fear or worry for themselves and their loved ones, and that travellers will very soon be able to come back and experience the beauty of Vietnam and its people the way it is supposed to be discovered.

Current snapshot of COVID-19 cases in Vietnam

Confirmed infections: 53
Recovered cases: 16
Deaths: 0
Quarantined: 94

Vietnam Airlines has announced the temporary suspension of VN flights from London, Paris, and Frankfurt to Vietnam. This is effective from Sunday 15th March. This is intended to help prevent the spreading of COVID 19.

The flights from 15th March will be operating but only to bring travelers back home to Europe and Vietnamese nationals back home to Vietnam.

From Sunday 15th March until Tuesday 14 April (30 days), a temporary entry stop has been issued for passport holders from 26 Schengen countries, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and Iran/South Korea/Japan even with an Embassy-issued visa or prior approved E-Visa or VOA (Visa On Arrival).

Until further notice, NO visas will be issued to passport holders of these 31 countries, including at Embassies abroad.

The 31 countries listed are as follows: Ireland, UK, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Spain, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Liechtenstein, Germany, Portugal, Sweden, Italy, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, Korea, Japan and Iran.

Travellers from the 26 Schengen countries and the UK, or those who have visited or transited through these countries in the past 14 days, will not be issued visas or allowed entry into Vietnam. This also applies to those who currently hold visas or visa letters.

From March 7, ALL inbound travellers coming to Vietnam will be required to submit a health declaration upon arrival. Travellers can fill out the declaration at the airport or submit it in advance at this link.

Travellers showing symptoms of COVID-19 may be required to carry out medical checks, and placed in a 14-day quarantine at designated health facilities in Vietnam.

All visitors are required to comply with regulations on epidemic prevention and health screening upon landing in Vietnam’s airports.

As of Sunday 15th of March, citizens of ALL other countries, besides the list of 31 above, are allowed into Vietnam ONLY if they have a visa already stamped in their passport issued at an Embassy/ Consulate abroad AND have not traveled to the UK or Schengen countries 14 days prior to arrival. E-Visas or Pre-approved VOAs for these passport holders will NOT be accepted.

ALL countries (except the list of 31), will be able to apply for a visa again from Monday 16th March through a Vietnam-based tour operator. Once the visa application is approved by Immigration, the visa will then be sent to the Embassy/Consulate closest to the client’s residence and will have to be collected there.

Pedestrian and walking zones in Hue and Hanoi — common gathering places for locals and tourists — will be closed until the situation improves. Tourism sites across the country are also setting aside closure days to disinfect their premises.

From now to March 26, Ha Long Bay, Cat Ba, Bai Tu Long Bay, and tourism sites in Ninh Binh will not be receiving guests. The Hoi An Ancient Town is not selling tickets to visitors, and has suspended its pedestrian and cycling street hours until the end of March 2020.

From Sunday 15th March at 6pm, Ho Chi Minh City is shutting down (mainly in district 1) all discos, bars, beer clubs, karaoke parlors, massage parlors, movie theaters as well as hotels and restaurants that also provide these services. We expect that Hanoi will follow soon.

Cambodia
The Cambodian government announced a ban on entry of citizens from five countries: Italy, Germany, Spain, France, and the USA, commencing 17 March 2020, lasting a period of 30 days.

Arrivals by AIR or LAND remain open for now and the VOA procedures and the E-Visa site https://www.evisa.gov.kh/home are functioning for ALL other nationalities except the 5 mentioned above.

From Friday 13th of March all entry of travellers through waterways into Cambodia has been temporarily halted. This effectively means a STOP for all cruises on the Mekong between Vietnam and Cambodia.

Myanmar
No entry for Chinese nationals. No cases recorded.
Laos
No flights to or from China or South Korea. No cases recorded. Temperature checks performed on arrival. Those with no fever can travel as normal. Anyone with a fever will be brought to the hospital for testing. No ban on travellers of any nationality from entering Laos.
Thailand
No quarantine measure for travellers from USA, UK, France, Germany, and most Western countries.

Boarding from South Korea, China, Macao, Hong Kong, Italy, Iran, passengers need to present a health certificate clarifying No Risk Of COVID-19 prior to boarding pass issuance. In addition, passengers are required to fill the T 8 form (downloadable here) and present to Disease Control Officers at the quarantine office in their destination airports in Thailand. This hasn’t been requested when transiting so far but it is recommended to recheck with your airline ahead.

In general stricter health screening measures are being put into place at international gateways and travellers are being checked for fever and symptoms. An AOT Airports application is being developed and might be requested to download to fill in the required information – name, surname, passport ID , mobile phone number, e-mail address and present them to the immigration officials on duty. The information will be stored for 14 days after arrival. The application is free and free WiFi is available in the arrival terminal.

13 March 2020

Vietnam
Current snapshot of COVID-19 cases in Vietnam

Confirmed infections: 32
Recovered cases: 16
Deaths: 0
Quarantined: 210

Confirmed cases were quarantined in the northern province of Vinh Phuc (11), in Ho Chi Minh City (4), Hanoi (4), Nha Trang in Khanh Hoa province (2), Quang Ninh Province (5), Lao Cai (2), Da Nang (2), Hue (1) and Thanh Hoa (1).

Vietnam has had its first new case in three weeks. This person arrived in Hanoi from the UK and was quarantined. The government is locating all people who could have been in contact or on the same flight with this person, including tourists. They have to remain self-quarantined for 14 days at home, in their hotel, or at a designated hospital.

As the people have been travelling, several hotels and cruises in Halong Bay they visited have been temporarily closed. Your Active Asia travel expert should contact you but should you have any concerns about a client travelling, please contact us.
Vietnam has temporarily suspended visa exemptions for citizens of these countries:

South Korea
Spain
Germany
France
Italy
Sweden
United Kingdom
Denmark
Finland
Norway

Countries with more than 500 confirmed cases of COVID-19, or more than 50 new cases per day, can also expect to have visa exemptions to Vietnam suspended at this time. Vietnam may refuse to grant visas to travellers showing symptoms of COVID-19.

With special exceptions only, all travellers arriving from and who have transited through mainland China, Daegu and Gyeongsangbuk within the past 14 days will be refused entry to Vietnam at this time.

Medical checks and quarantines
All travellers entering Vietnam from or having transited through mainland China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Italy, and Iran must carry out medical declarations and medical checks upon entering the country.

From March 7, all inbound travellers coming to Vietnam will be required to submit a health declaration upon arrival. Travellers can fill out the declaration at the airport or submit it in advance below. Travellers showing symptoms of COVID-19 may be required to carry out medical checks, and placed in a 14-day quarantine at designated health facilities in Vietnam. All visitors are required to comply with regulations on epidemic prevention and health screening upon landing in Vietnam’s airports.

Visas
The latest overnight developments have been that the Vietnam visa on arrival has been suspended for ALL countries. Therefore visitors planning to visit Vietnam or who are booked to for trips to Vietnam now need to apply for a visa at the Vietnamese Embassy here in New Zealand before travelling. Options include applying directly at the embassy or requesting an approval letter through a travel agency, as passengers with a visa approval letter can still enter Vietnam as usual. All visitors are required to comply with Vietnam’s regulations on health check and quarantine upon arrival as per yesterday’s announcement.

12 March 2020

Medical checks and quarantines form can be found at this link.

Based on the latest information we have received from our partners in Vietnam; clients who have obtained an e-visa or pre approval letter that has been issued before the 10th March are still able to enter Vietnam.

Otherwise a visa needs to be obtained through the Vietnamese Embassy in Wellington.

We also strongly recommend contacting the Vietnamese Embassy in Wellington or a Visa specialist such as Travcour to obtain the latest up to date information.

The Embassy of Viet Nam in New Zealand

Level 21 Grand Plimmer Tower,
2-6 Gilmer Terrace,
Wellington 6011
Tel: (64-4) 473 5912
Email: [email protected]

Travcour

Members
Phone: (09) 366 0635
E-mail: [email protected]

For Non-members
Phone: 0900 58472 – Visa enquires (fee applies)

We will continue to update you on the situation as more information is available.

11 March 2020

The latest overnight developments have been that the Vietnam visa on arrival has been suspended for ALL countries. Therefore visitors planning to visit Vietnam or who are booked to for trips to Vietnam now need to apply for a visa at the Vietnamese Embassy here in New Zealand before travelling. Options include applying directly at the embassy or requesting an approval letter through a travel agency, as passengers with a visa approval letter can still enter Vietnam as usual. All visitors are required to comply with Vietnam’s regulations on health check and quarantine upon arrival as per yesterday’s announcement.