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Two Garuda Indonesia aircraft at the Sukarno-Hatta airport in Tangerang, outskirts of Jakarta. Image Credit: AFP

Jakarta: Indonesia is lifting all quarantine rules for fully-vaccinated visitors to end two years of border closure, following its neighboUrs in easing entry restrictions as Southeast Asia moves past the worst of the omicron wave.

The government will expand its quarantine-free travels to the rest of the country following a successful two-week trial of the programme in Bali, Batam and Bintan islands, where infections have remained low, Tourism Minister Sandiaga Uno said in his weekly briefing on Monday.

Arriving visitors are still required to take the COVID-19 test.

Southeast Asia's largest economy has steadily chipped away at its remaining virus restrictions, most recently by allowing domestic travelers to board flights without having to present negative test results. Daily coronavirus cases have dropped more than 90% from a mid-February peak, even as deaths remain high, reaching 154 people on Monday.

Transition

"We are now preparing to transition to a new post-pandemic economic order, and we will carry out this normalization in the next few months," Uno said. "If everything goes smoothly after Eid, then this process will continue so that we can expand our economic activities."

Worshipers can carry out religious activities during the upcoming Ramadan fasting month, and people are allowed to travel to their hometowns as long they are fully vaccinated and adhere to the health protocols, said Uno.

In the past two years, traveling during the month was restricted as it usually resulted in a surge in Covid infections. The annual holiday migration typically sees more than 81 million people head home to regional towns from urban centers in Muslim majority Indonesia and Malaysia.

Uno also said that the visa-on-arrival program has been expanded to cover a total of 42 countries, effective Monday.

G20 Summit

The border reopening is set to bolster Indonesia's role as the host of the Group of 20 summit this year. The country aims to use the flurry of meetings of officials from the world's biggest economies to help revive tourism revenue in Bali and nearby islands.

Neighbours Vietnam, Malaysia and Philippines have already announced that they're waiving quarantine rules for international travelers. Thailand and Cambodia eased testing requirements to bolster tourism.

The industry accounted for 12.1% of Southeast Asia's economic output and employed 42 million workers in 2019, according to the Asian Development Bank.

More places are easing their Covid polices even when cases remain high. Hong Kong is lifting a travel ban from several countries and halving mandatory quarantine, as residents' tolerance for the restrictions was fading.