Myanmar to Lift Ban on Foreign Travel for Citizens With Urgent Business

By Zaw Zaw Htwe 29 July 2020

YANGON—The Myanmar government is planning to allow citizens with urgent business abroad to fly out of the country for the first time since a ban on all international commercial passenger flights was put in place on March 30 as a measure to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Under restrictions that have been in place since the end of March and are valid through the end of August, only cargo, relief and special flights have been permitted.

In a statement issued on Monday, however, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said it will allow citizens to board international flights after confirming they have urgent matters to attend to overseas.

MOFA officials couldn’t be reached for comment on Wednesday, however.

The ministry said it will allow the departure of those seeking emergency medical treatment or surgical appointments abroad, citizens and seamen who need to get back to workplaces on time, scholars and students working or studying abroad either as part of government or private programs, and others with urgent business to attend to.

Those citizens will be allowed to board cargo or relief flights, or special flights arranged to bring home nationals stranded overseas.

Citizens wishing to travel abroad are asked to arrange the necessary travel documents in advance. They must apply for any required entry visas at the relevant embassies in Yangon by themselves, MOFA said.

Those who want to go abroad must submit the necessary documents to the airline or to the organizers of relief or special flights in advance. MOFA will let them know whether they have permission to travel via the airlines.

MOFA said citizens approved to fly will need to make their own arrangements with the respective airlines to purchase tickets.

One exception to the above rules involves cases in which people are traveling to Thailand for medical treatment. In those cases, the ministry will negotiate with the Thai Embassy on behalf of those citizens and their caregivers who plan to travel to Thailand. Those citizens need to submit the necessary documents to MOFA at the same time as they register with the airlines, according to the ministry.

Citizens cleared to travel can apply to take a COVID-19 test at the National Health Laboratory (Yangon) or the Public Health Laboratory (Mandalay).

MOFA is warning all those approved to travel to carefully read the COVID-19 measures and immigration requirements of the respective countries they are traveling to, as many countries have imposed COVID-19 restrictions on those seeking entry.

As of Wednesday morning, Myanmar had reported 351 COVID-19 cases including six deaths and 293 recoveries, according to the Health Ministry.

Meanwhile, since April 30, Myanmar has arranged around 60 relief flights and brought 9,105 stranded nationals home from more than 10 countries including India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Australia, the Philippines, Singapore, the UK, the US and the UAE, according to MOFA.

On July 14, International Cooperation Minister U Kyaw Tin said during a videoconference with State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi that officials would arrange 13 relief flights in August to bring home an estimated 1,800 nationals stranded in overseas countries.

All returnees from overseas countries are placed in facility quarantine or hotel quarantine for 21 days and then required to isolate at home for an additional seven days in order to contain the spread of COVID-19.

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