Travelers to the country will no longer be required to present a negative coronavirus test result starting Saturday.
South Korea will scrap pre-departure COVID-19 tests on arrivals, lifting recent border controls linked to the pandemic, in a boost to the country’s beleaguered travel industry.
Travelers to the country will no longer be required to present a negative coronavirus test result starting Saturday, Yonhap news agency reported Wednesday.
The change comes after a government advisory committee recommended ending mandatory PCR tests for incoming travelers.
South Korea is among the last of the region’s economies to maintain strict border controls, although China, which has an ultra-strict “zero COVID” strategy, Japan and Taiwan continue to impose extensive barriers to travel.
Asian countries including Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia have lifted testing requirements in recent months as the region welcomes return travel after relying heavily on border restrictions earlier in the pandemic.
South Korea lifted quarantine requirements for vaccinated tourists in April and lifted quarantine for all arrivals regardless of vaccination status in July. Tourists have been slow to return, however, with passenger traffic at Incheon Airport’s main gate in July reaching less than a quarter of pre-pandemic levels.
The East Asian country has reported some of the highest numbers of COVID-19 cases in the world in recent weeks, despite high vaccination rates and widespread mask use, although the vast majority of infections have been mild.
Daily cases have hovered around 100,000 since peaking at 180,000 in mid-August amid the spread of highly transmissible sub-variants of Omicron.
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