Kyrgyzstan reopens borders to all foreign visitors

Kyrgyzstan on Saturday announced that citizens of all countries would be allowed to enter the Central Asian country, lifting border restrictions it had instituted at the start of the pandemic in the spring.

In a statement on Saturday the foreign ministry said that visitors would be allowed in via three international airports.

The ex-Soviet country had earlier begun letting in citizens from countries where it had deemed coronavirus outbreaks were stable.

Now the only requirement for entry is a negative PCR test presented before boarding and on arrival taken within 72 hours. If the test has expired, visitors are able to take a new one at the airport.

The move came as health officials on Saturday reported 401 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, bringing the country’s total caseload to 74,774. 

Total virus-related deaths stood at 1,290.

As a second wave swept Central Asia this summer, Kyrgyzstan refrained from instituting a strict stay-at-home order like in the spring.  

Criticism prompted the government to admit that pandemic-related aid received from international donors was used to pay state salaries and plug budget holes compounded by the spring’s lockdown.

On Saturday foreign ministry said as part of the lifting of border restrictions international election observers would be allowed into the country for next year’s presidential and parliamentary votes.

The presidential election is scheduled to take place on January 10, while no date has been set for the parliamentary polls.

Votes in mountainous Kyrgyzstan are traditionally more competitive than in the other ex-Soviet “stans” — Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.