BALI: Bali reopened to international flights from select countries on Thursday, including China, Japan and France, as the pandemic-struck Indonesian holiday island took a step toward welcoming back tourists.

But authorities in Bali, which lost its primary source of income as tourism dried up, said there were no international flights expected on Thursday.

Foreign visitors must be vaccinated, quarantine in a hotel for five days and follow strict visa requirements under new entry rules for travellers. “We’re ready and waiting for international flights,” said airport spokesman Taufan Yudhistira.

“But so far there’s nothing scheduled today.” Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport was open to travellers from 19 countries including South Korea, China, Japan, France, the United Arab Emirates, Dubai and New Zealand, authorities said.

The partial reopening, however, does not include Australians -- a key source of the millions of tourists who flocked to the palm-fringed island before the pandemic.

Indonesia was previously devastated by the highly contagious Delta variant of the virus -- recording more than 56,000 new Covid cases in just one day in mid-July.

The government announced emergency restrictions in the hardest-hit areas, shutting down non-essential businesses and limiting people’s movement.

Published in Dawn, October 15th, 2021

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