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Pre-departure testing in final days

Izah Azahari

The requirement for pre-departure RT-PCR and ART screening will be removed starting June 15, regardless of vaccination status.

Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah announced at the daily press conference yesterday.

Individuals, who have completed the vaccination schedule, will be exempted from COVID-19 screening upon returning to the Sultanate, said the minister.

Members of the public, who have not completed the vaccination process, will be required to perform an ART upon arrival and undergo a three-day isolation.

The isolation period will only end should the RT-PCR test performed on the third day return negative.

Additionally, the COVID-19 travel insurance treatment coverage rate for intending travellers looking to leave or enter Brunei Darussalam has been updated to a BND20,000 minimum for air, land or sea travel, Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew said.

“This condition is applicable to citizens and permanent residents of Brunei Darussalam who leave the country, as well as foreigners who enter the country,” he said, adding that government officers leaving the country on duty are exempted from this; subject to the conditions of entry to the intended country.

Scheduled ART screening for transport operators is also discontinued. However, they are advised to carry out rapid testing from time to time, should they show symptoms of infection, or come into close contact with a positive case.

Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew also announced the reopening of land and sea borders, strictly for essential travel from June 15. This includes land or sea travel for the purpose of work or school matters, as well as commuting purposes; transit travel only; and transport operators registered in and outside the country tasked with shipping vital import and export supplies.

Essential travel permission must be sought from the Prime Minister’s Office, through website. COVID-19 vaccination status is also not required for categorised essential travel.

Meanwhile, unrestricted cross-border travel is slated to begin from August 1, 2022 – subject to the COVID-19 situation nationally and regionally, as well as operational readiness at control posts.

“Non-essential land and sea travel is still not permitted until Sunday, July 31, 2022,” Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew said.

Explaining why pre-departure tests are no longer required, Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar said, “When looking at the population ratio, Brunei is among the countries that still reports many cases, with imported cases making up only about one per cent of the total figure.

“Emphasis must be placed on having everyone create their own standards, and to carry out ART screening should they show symptoms and so on,” he said, before adding that many countries no longer provide certified RT-PCR or ART, making it difficult for people to return to Brunei with it.

“It is hoped that this will not only make travel easier, but allow each individual to carry out the test themselves,” Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham said.

With regards to non-essential land and sea travel planned for August 1, Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew said, “Close monitoring of the COVID-19 situation will be carried out. When the borders re-open, the condition for land and sea cross-border travel will be the same as the current air travel ones.”

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