As the CMCO is extended again in KL, Selangor, and other states, tourism players are getting increasingly fed up with the government’s neverending two-week extensions.
Like a college student overly attached to a comfy old flannel shirt, Malaysia is having a hard time parting ways with movement restrictions in the country.
Once again, Ismail Sabri rolled out another two-week extension of the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) for Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Penang, Johor, and Kelantan, running through April 14.
Meanwhile, for Kedah, Perak, Melaka, Pahang, Terengganu, Perlis, Sabah, Putrajaya, Labuan, and Negeri Sembilan, Ismail announced that the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) in those areas has been extended until April 14, as well.
The CMCO was also extended in Sarawak, yet only until April 12 there.
Some comments arose to cast doubt on whether the restrictions would even be lifted in time for the Hari Raya holidays, which fall in mid-May this year.
One such warning came last week from Melaka Manipal Medical College’s Community and Occupational Medicine Professor Dr G. Jayakumar, who said the premature lifting of interstate travel could spark a new wave of infections and cause severe, longer-term damage to the economy.
“The movement of people during this period will be in huge numbers. We should restrict interstate travel during this upcoming Ramadan and Hari Raya period,” he said. “We cannot let our guard down. We learnt a bitter lesson last year when there was a spike in cases when travel restrictions were relaxed during the Sabah elections.”
Sure enough, the ongoing interstate travel restrictions were extended again through April 14, drawing the ire of multiple tourism players (and would-be travellers), many of whom took to social media to vent their frustration.
“Malaysia’s tourism industry is being killed, two weeks at a time,” one netizen posted. “Govt got comfortable with extending CMCO every time,” another wrote, adding, “No domestic travel allowed is hurting so many people.”
Travel is allowed between RMCO states and territories, but only with government-approved tour companies. Personal leisure interstate travel is not permitted.
In an unrelated announcement, the government also affirmed that inbound tourists would not be exempted from control measures, such as mandatory quarantine, even if they had been fully vaccinated. It’s unclear what point this announcement served, as the borders remain closed to international tourists, regardless of their vaccination history. Perhaps this is a nod to future plans that are being discussed now, but this was not clarified.
Health Director-General Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said that the health ministry on March 12 decided that risk assessments should be carried out on travellers who had received full Covid-19 immunisation, while also noting that the World Health Organisation had not recommended that the vaccination could be used as an “immunity passport” for travel purposes.
He explained that although some countries with access to Covid-19 vaccines had begun vaccinating their population since the end of 2020, more information was still required to determine how effective the vaccines are at preventing the spread of the virus.
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