BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – The government has postponed plans to lift the ban on non-essential travel on January 1, removing all countries in the green travel list amid fears over the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Speaking at the COVID-19 news conference on Wednesday, the minister at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said authorities have decided not to proceed with the quarantine-free travel policy now due to rising cases in several countries and “the threat of Omicron”.

YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah said all Brunei residents are still required to seek approval from PMO if they wish to leave or enter the country for essential travel.

The scrapping of the green travel list, which initially included Australia, China, Singapore and the UK, comes just three days before international air travel was due to restart after a 21-month wait.

The UK was the first country to be withdrawn from the green list last week as it grapples with a surge in Omicron infections. Brunei’s first Omicron case was imported from Britain.

Brunei has opted to delay the reopening of borders, despite loosening most domestic COVID curbs as part of the government’s strategy of treating the coronavirus as endemic.

Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Amin. Photo: Rasidah Hj Abu Bakar/The Scoop

Spelling out the revised travel guidelines, YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Amin said Brunei citizens and permanent residents can only travel abroad for essential reasons.

If they need to leave the country, they must obtain an exit travel permit and ensure they have received at least two doses of a COVID vaccine within 14 days to three months prior to departure.

Foreigners who wish to enter Brunei likewise need to apply for an entry travel pass from PMO.

All incoming passengers will need to complete a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test 48 hours before boarding their flight. When arriving in Brunei, they must take an antigen rapid test and another PCR test on the fifth day post-entry.

Inbound travellers must also undergo mandatory quarantine at designated hotels.

“We can no longer allow home quarantine since the Omicron variant is quite serious now, we’re still monitoring and assessing the COVID situation,” the minister said, adding that travel rules will be updated from time to time.