Thailand and Malaysia to expedite quarantine-free cross-border travels for vaccinated travellers
BANGKOK: Thailand and Malaysia agreed to expedite quarantine-free travels across the borders for travellers who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Thai Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Friday (Feb 25) after meeting his Malaysian counterpart Ismail Sabri Yaakob in Bangkok.
“We share the hope that fully vaccinated people will soon be able to travel between Thailand and Malaysia without quarantine, while following public health measures of both sides,” stated Gen Prayut during a joint press conference at the Government House in Bangkok.
“Malaysia has called such channel ‘Vaccinated Travel Lane’ (VTL),” he added.
According to the Thai prime minister, a joint working group will be set up to discuss guidelines for cross-border travels in order to expedite the reopening of borders.
At present, fully vaccinated travellers from Malaysia can enter Thailand by air without quarantine under Thailand’s tourism initiative called Test & Go. However, Gen Prayut said Thailand is also preparing for the reopening of its land borders.
“I hope the Malaysian side will allow travellers from Thailand who meet the conditions set by Malaysia to enter the country by air and land when the situation begins to improve,” he added.
According to Mr Ismail Sabri, quarantine-free air travels (VTL-Air) between Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok will first become available for fully vaccinated travellers before other destinations are added later.
“The VTL scheme would also include the opening up of our land and sea border checkpoints such as Bukit Kayu Hitam-Sadao and Langkawi-Satun. By doing this, it would help to revive our economic and business linkages, particularly our tourism sector,” Mr Ismail Sabri said.
During their bilateral meeting, the two leaders also reaffirmed their commitment to expedite pending connectivity projects along the borders that would promote trade, investment and tourism.
These projects include the construction of two new bridges across the Golok River and the construction of the road alignment linking the checkpoint in Sadao, Thailand and the Bukit Kayu Hitam checkpoint in Malaysia’s Kedah state.
The Malaysian prime minister is the first foreign leader to pay an official visit to Thailand since the outbreak of COVID-19. His visit will conclude on Feb 26.
Besides reopening the borders, the two leaders also agreed to explore new investment opportunities from both sides.
“Thai investors can explore new investment sectors in Malaysia such as digital economy, circular and green economy and in Thailand, Malaysian investors can participate in the Bio-Circular-Green (BCG) Economy Model, and other emerging sectors such as vaccine research and development, electric and smart vehicles, automation and robotics,” said Mr Ismail Sabri.
On regional issues, the two prime ministers discussed the situation in Myanmar during their meeting on Friday.
“We agreed that it is crucial for ASEAN to continue playing a positive and constructive role in facilitating a durable and peaceful solution in the interest of Myanmar and in the larger interest of the ASEAN Community,” said Mr Ismail Sabri.
“We share the same view that it is crucial for Myanmar to cooperate in the implementation of the Five-Point Consensus, and the necessity to preserve the credibility and integrity of ASEAN. We look forward to the return to democracy in Myanmar,” he added.