With more than 90% of Malaysia’s adult population now fully vaccinated, the government has taken a big step towards reclaiming a bit of normalcy in the country by permitting interstate travel to resume.
In a special address on Sunday afternoon, October 10, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said that the government was sticking to its promise to lift the restrictions on interstate travel with effect the following day, as the vaccination rate among the adult population in the country had reached 90%.
Noting the country’s high rate of vaccination, Sabri said, “The government has allowed interstate travel for those who have been fully vaccinated without the need to apply for permission from the authorities beginning Monday, October 11.”
He also pointed out that Malaysians are now permitted to travel abroad without needing to apply for the MyTravelPass from Immigration. This decision also takes effect on October 11.
“The government has agreed to abolish the use of MyTravelPass,” he announced, “which means that all Malaysians wishing to travel overseas, including for tourism purposes, are now allowed on the condition that they are fully vaccinated.”
Though Malaysians are permitted to travel abroad now, Malaysia’s borders still remain closed to foreign tourists, with entry only granted by permission to those with urgent matters, business travel, or other official reasons for travel.
No mention was made of foreign residents of Malaysia. Logically, any such person who has a valid visa to reside in the country should enjoy the same travel privileges as Malaysian citizens, but in the past, this has not always been the case, so we are hoping for clarification on this point.
Additionally, all other procedures for international travel would still apply, and it falls on the person wishing to travel from Malaysia to know what the requirements of the destination country are at the time of travel. Many countries still have closed borders, while some are partly open, but not accepting visitors for tourism purposes. Testing and quarantine periods may also apply, so it’s very important to check very carefully.
Sabri further mentioned that at this point, despite any localised outbreaks or increases in cases resulting from the resumption of interstate travel in Malaysia, the ban on such travel would not be reimposed.
“As I have mentioned, interstate travel relaxation will be enforced even if there is a surge in Covid-19 cases,” he said. “I would like to assure everyone that businesses and livelihoods will continue normally, even if we have to close off certain areas.
“In fact, we can ensure not a single place needs to be cordoned off if we all adhere to the standard operating procedures.”
While there will not be specific roadblocks set up to check the vaccination status of interstate travellers, authorities are free to conduct spot checks as and when desired. Covid-19 self-tests are not mandatory for those crossing state lines, but the prime minister did encourage the use of such tests for peace of mind and protection of loved ones, as many Malaysians will be travelling back to their hometowns.
“The government is not making it compulsory to self-test every interstate journey,” he explained, “but as I have said, it is our own responsibility to protect our family. Where is the harm in ensuring our parents are safe if we were to screen ourselves for any infections? Therefore, self-testing is encouraged for our parents in our hometown.”
The lifting of the interstate travel came as very welcome news for tour operators and businesses throughout Malaysia which rely heavily on tourism income, not least of which are hotels, homestays, and other travel accommodation.
Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) chief executive officer Yap Lip Seng said the resumption of interstate travel was a welcome move and would support the country’s overall economic recovery, and expressed his confidence that the hotel industry would be equal to the task of providing safe accommodation to those making bookings.
“The hotel industry, in particular, has been looking forward (to this development) and at the same time, we are well prepared with safety protocols as an added assurance to travellers,” Yap said.
“More importantly, this would drive confidence among the people in the industry and the industry needs to rebuild its talents, to be ready for the impending reopening of our international borders.”
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