KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Health Ministry has proposed that interstate travel be postponed for the upcoming Hari Raya Aidilfitri, as daily COVID-19 cases continue to rise.
Speaking after a ministry event on Thursday (Apr 15), Health Minister Adham Baba said the proposal to put off approval for interstate travel was due to two reasons.
“One, there are new variants of COVID-19 in the community. Two, the vaccination programme is still ongoing, so we need to control the situation,” he said.
He noted that many parties have appealed to the government to permit interstate travel for this major festival.
On whether exceptions could be made for those who have completed their vaccination, Dr Adham said the ministry was still waiting for findings from the World Health Organisation and the US' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
If the ministry’s proposal to halt cross-state travel for the upcoming Hari Raya celebrations is accepted, this will be the second year running that Malaysians will not be able to return to their hometowns for the festive season.
Earlier on Thursday, Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation Khairy Jamaluddin said those living apart from their sick or aged parents or grandparents would be allowed to return home to accompany the latter for their COVID-19 vaccinations.
Mr Khairy, who is also the coordinating minister for Malaysia’s COVID-19 immunisation programme, gave an example of a man working in Kuala Lumpur and returning to his hometown in Negeri Sembilan to escort his aged or sick parents, or other dependents to go for their vaccination appointments.
In such instances, they would only have to show proof of the relevant medical appointments in order to be cleared for interstate travel.
Private interstate travel has not been allowed since the reimposition of Malaysia’s second Movement Control Order, or MCO 2.0 back in January this year, following a surge in cases.
The situation has since been relaxed, with a number of states under the less restrictive Conditional MCO and others under the Recovery MCO.
However, domestic travel and tourism are only allowed in organised groups between Recovery MCO states, by tour companies registered with the tourism ministry.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, speaking with business chambers and industry associations on Thursday, said the government has no intention to enforce a third MCO.
However, he added that industries, especially those providing workers’ accommodation, had to comply strictly with the health protocols. He also noted that more than 83 per cent of cases were from the manufacturing sector, with workers’ housing often the source of infections.
As of Thursday, there were more than 365,000 COVID-19 cases in Malaysia, with over 1,300 deaths.