Travel restrictions are vital: PMO

In response to a letter by Disgruntled Bruneian titled, “Essential travel for self-employed”, published in the Bulletin’s Opinion page on September 19, we deeply sympathise with the writer’s plight, and others who may be similarly affected.

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) would like to make clarifications regarding restrictions on cross-border travel. On March 16, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, all travellers intending to exit Brunei Darussalam – whether by air, land or sea – are required to obtain prior approval from the PMO. This is part of the government’s efforts to minimise the risk of Brunei citizens and residents being infected with COVID-19 outside the country, and who could potentially bring the infection into the country.

Since the introduction of the policy, the importation of cases has largely been well under control; there has also been no evidence of community transmission within the country. Like Brunei, other countries have enacted similar travel restrictions that prevent most foreign citizens from entering their countries, while strictly regulating outbound travel for their own nationals.

At present, travel restrictions in Brunei are at Level 1 of the de-escalation efforts, where applications for inbound travel are being considered on a case-by-case basis, subject to risk assessments by the Ministry of Health (MoH) and other relevant government agencies. As published in a media statement by the MoH on March 15, all citizens and residents of Brunei Darussalam are restricted from leaving the country, except in certain circumstances, such as undergoing urgent medical care, attending court hearings or resuming studies abroad.

It is expected that the further easing of restrictions, including for travel, will ensue when the pandemic becomes more controlled.

As stated in the latest World Health Organization’s (WHO) country report on Brunei Darussalam, our government “has been vigilant and acted in accordance with WHO guidance to find, isolate, test and treat cases; and trace and quarantine their contacts, while also implementing robust border control, communication activities and community engagement”. For its part, WHO continues to monitor closely the COVID-19 situation in Brunei and supports Brunei’s efforts in controlling the spread of the virus.

The PMO would like to express its appreciation to the public for their understanding and cooperation in protecting the well-being of the country by adhering to government policies in efforts to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection in Brunei Darussalam.

To submit travel applications and access relevant guidelines, the public may refer to www.pmo.gov.bn/travelportal or contact the travel hotline at 120 or email to [email protected] (exit travel) or [email protected] (entry travel).

Prime Minister’s Office