Malaysia mulls waiving or shortening quarantine for vaccinated foreigners from certain countries: Muhyiddin
KUALA LUMPUR: Fully vaccinated foreigners from certain countries may be allowed to enter Malaysia with shorter or no mandatory quarantine, said National Recovery Council (NRC) chairman Muhyiddin Yassin on Friday (Oct 15).
Mr Muhyiddin said the Malaysian government was considering such a move following positive progress of the COVID-19 indicators in the country, including a drop in daily cases, a significant decrease in the usage of intensive care units and a high vaccination rate.
"Based on the positive development, the meeting was informed that government is considering to reopen the country’s borders safely by allowing fully vaccinated foreign travellers from certain countries to enter the country without having to undergo mandatory quarantine," he told reporters after chairing an NRC meeting.
Mr Muhyiddin did not indicate which countries were being considered.
The reopening of borders would be carried out through mutual recognition of vaccine certificate programmes, as had been implemented in several other countries, he added.
"This is a positive development in the process of opening the country's borders, which I am sure will revive economic activities, especially the tourism sector, international conventions, retail and others, as well as to facilitate business travellers and social visitors coming to the country,” Mr Muhyiddin said.
“I hope this border reopening process, which is an important aspect in the country’s recovery, can be done quickly and safely,” he added.
However, Mr Muhyiddin said the matter had yet to be finalised. Responding to a question later, he said he was informed that the government would be discussing the matter in a meeting on Friday under a separate committee chaired by Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
"We have considered the opening of international borders for a long time and maybe the time has come (to implement it), with cross-district and interstate travel now allowed,” he said.
He added that reopening of borders for foreigners to enter Malaysia was being awaited.
"Foreign travellers, whether for business or for social and leisure, can come to our country after completing double vaccination and having their digital certificates recognised.
"And maybe there is screening or swab test before arrival, but the quarantine period is either not imposed, or one that is not too long," he said.
Malaysia reported 7,420 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, bringing the total so far to over 2.37 million.
Interstate and international travel resumed for Malaysians from Monday, after more than 90 per cent of adults across Malaysia were fully vaccinated.
TOURISM MINISTRY PROPOSED TO OPEN LANGKAWI TO FOREIGNERS
Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Nancy Shukri on Thursday said the ministry had proposed to the NRC to reopen Langkawi to foreign tourists.
She said at the Upper House that the move was to enable Malaysia to revive its economy, which was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Bernama reported.
“I suggest that we open (the borders) to (tourists from) certain countries to Langkawi first, under the Langkawi pilot project,” she was quoted as saying. Langkawi was earlier opened to domestic tourists in a pilot travel bubble programme before the interstate travel ban was lifted.
“This is one of the ways we can revive our economy,” she said in reply to Senator Ahmad Yahaya, who wanted to know whether the government planned to open the borders for tourists, especially from Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member countries.
Mdm Nancy said that based on feedback from the Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH), a total of 85,921 people had travelled to Langkawi between Sept 16 and Oct 12 through the tourism bubble project.
In response, the Kedah state government said it welcomed the tourism minister’s proposal.
The state planned to open a massive COVID-19 screening facility for inbound tourists from abroad as part of the preparations to welcome foreign tourists, said Kedah tourism committee chairman Mohd Firdaus Ahmad, as quoted by the New Straits Times.
"The state government plans to open a COVID-19 screening facility at the Mahsuri International Exhibition Centre next to the Langkawi International Airport, which can screen up to 300 inbound travellers from overseas," he said.