Government AffairsInterstate travel and eased restrictions for fully-vaccinated individuals once country reaches 90% herd immunity mark.

Is Malaysia ready to press restart for tourism in 2 to 3 weeks?

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Upon reaching herd immunity, interstate travel and tourism activities will resume, although foreigners arriving at the international gateway must bear the cost of the RT-PCR test to enter the country.
Upon reaching herd immunity, interstate travel and tourism activities will resume, although foreigners arriving at the international gateway must bear the cost of the RT-PCR test to enter the country. Photo Credit: Getty Images/06photo

Malaysia Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced on 22 September that interstate travel and tourism activities will resume once it reaches 90% herd immunity for its adult population.

The PM expects this to happen in some two to three weeks time, looking at how the country has 80.2% who are fully vaccinated as of 21 September.

He added in the same Facebook 22 September post that "with these leniences, we can restore national economic brilliance soon. However, in this effort, we should also always be sensitive and keep each other safe".

From last Friday 24 September, three states transited phases in the National Recovery Plan (NPR): Negeri Sembilan to phase four, Pahang to phase three, and Johor to phase two.

Additionally, although infected numbers remain at four figures, Johor's inter-district travel ban has been lifted, dining-in allowed with a 50% capacity per table and tourism activities have resumed.

And starting 1 October, all tourism centres will resume operations under all four phases of the countries National Recovery Plan (NPR), while cruise ships are also allowed to operate at 50% capacity — both under the same rule that operators and visitors must be fully vaccinated.

However, the business events sector, which has been placed further behind in phase four of reopening in November or December has filed an appeal letter to the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) urging authorities to move forward the resumption.

As for Langkawi, which became the first in the country to open to local tourists on 16 September, National Recovery Council chair Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin expects to further relax standard operating procedures (SOPs) especially when the country reaches the 90% herd immunity mark, and when more states shift into phase two or three of the NPR.

Langkawi's domestic travel bubble has since been stable, with no positive Covid-19 cases found in inbound tourists after reopening. According to a report by local paper The Star, travellers who are detected positive at the screening stage at Kuala Lumpur International Airport are turned away before reaching Langkawi, as part of standard operating procedures.

Foreigners arriving at the international gateway must bear the cost of the RT-PCR test to enter the country, while the test is free for Malaysian citizens.

As well, entry restrictions have been lifted for five countries: India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Nepal.

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