South Korea Returns COVID-19 Travel Regulations, Squashes Gaming Recovery

Posted on: December 2, 2021, 10:37h. 

Last updated on: December 2, 2021, 11:45h.

South Korea is bringing back travel and quarantine requirements for new arrivals into the country. This is bad news for the countries casinos, one of which just celebrated a potential sign of economic recovery.

South Korea
A woman checks individuals for COVID-19, above. The country had seen a reduction of new cases to zero but with the new variant threat, the country is cracking down on quarantine and travel restrictions. (Image: Forbes)

The restrictions cover anyone entering the country, including South Korean nationals. Anyone arriving between 12 AM on Dec. 3 to 12 AM on Dec.17 must endure a 10-day quarantine.

All travelers will be subject to nationwide quarantine upon arrival, regardless of their status. Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) stated that exceptions may be made in certain cases. Among those are people who arrive to perform public duties or attend the funeral of a relative.

All foreign nationals entering the country must be tested four times for COVID-19 while in quarantine. Temporary living facilities will be used to quarantine short-stay foreign nationals. Foreign nationals staying for longer periods and South Korean citizens will be required to remain at their residence.

Additionally, travel from South Africa, Nigeria, and several other countries have been restricted until further notice.

The requirements come with new of the latest COVID-19 variant, omicron. As of yesterday, there were five reported cases. Two were reported to be a fully vaccinated couple from Nigeria. The other three were two family members and a friend.

Too Good To Be True For Jeju

The rules come into play just as Jeju Shinhwa World, a local resort, celebrated the welcome of a group of international travelers from Singapore. It was the first time in almost two years that international visitors had been allowed.

Jeju Shinhwa World officials hoped this event was signaling post-COVID economic recovery to the country and gaming sector.

When the new rules come into effect, they will include Jeju Island. This semi-autonomous region has specific regulations for foreigner-only casino operators that are tailored specifically to its needs.

Jeju’s old visa-on-arrival scheme, which allowed eligible foreign nationals to enter directly into the area without having to stop on the South Korean continental mainland, was suspended in February of last year.

It was reported last month that the local government sought permission from the national authorities to relaunch this program. However, permission was reportedly still being obtained. With the new quarantine in place, it’s unlikely approval will be given.

New COVID-19 Spikes Arriving in the Country

South Korea saw 5,266 new COVID-19-related cases on Wednesday, according to the KDCA. This is a new daily high and brings the total number of confirmed cases to 457,612, with 3,705 deaths.

The number of new cases was greater than what was reported only a day earlier. For the first time, South Korea surpassed 5,000 on Tuesday.

Nearly 92% of adults in the country have been vaccinated. The focus now is on children and booster programs. Experts warn that there could be more cases because of the possible spread of the more transmissible omicron variant.