August 10 target to restart Malaysia-Singapore travel

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The reciprocal ‘green lane’ will allow travel for essential business and official purposes between the two countries. THE STRAITS TIMES

Malaysia and Singapore have agreed to start cross-border travel for long-term pass holders and essential business and official travellers.

The target is to have the necessary systems and processes in place on August 10.

Malaysian Minister of Foreign Affairs Hishammuddin Hussein and his Singapore counterpart Dr Vivian Balakrishnan announced this in a joint statement on Tuesday.

The reciprocal “green lane” will allow travel for essential business and official purposes between the two countries. Those eligible will have to abide by measures, including taking Covid-19 swab tests and submitting their itineraries.

The periodic commuting arrangement will allow Malaysia residents and Singapore residents who hold long-term immigration passes for business and work purposes in the other country to enter that country for work.

After at least three consecutive months in their country of work, they may return to their home country for short-term home leave, and thereafter re-enter their country of work to continue work for at least another three consecutive months, said the statement.

The proposed August 10 date will give the relevant agencies of both governments time to finalise the standard operating procedures of the two initiatives, said the statement.

The requirements, health protocols and application process involved for entry and exit into Malaysia and Singapore will be published 10 days before their implementation.

Also, on Tuesday, Balakrishnan said via Facebook: “Singapore and Malaysia share deep and extensive ties, and cross-border people-to-people interactions and economic exchanges are important to both countries.

“Through these travel arrangements, we hope to progressively and safely restore these exchanges and address the needs of different groups of travellers.”

Malaysia imposed a movement control order on March 18 to stem the spread of coronavirus cases in the country.

It has been in a “recovery phase” since last month, although its international borders remain shut.

On June 8, Singapore gradually reopened its borders by launching a “fast lane” agreement with China which allowed the resumption of essential business and official travel.

But restrictions apply, such as travellers having to seek approval from the authorities.

Currently, long-term pass holders arriving in Singapore – other than those who have spent the last 14 days in certain countries or regions – have to serve a 14-day stay-home notice period at dedicated facilities.

Malaysia and Singapore have also agreed to develop other schemes for cross-border movements, such as a daily cross-border commuting proposal for work purposes for travellers from both countries.

This will take into account the required health protocols and available medical resources in both countries to ensure the safety of the citizens of both sides.

Balakrishnan said in the Facebook post that these other schemes will take time as the necessary public health protocols and available medical resources of both countries need to be considered.

“I would, therefore, seek the patience of fellow Singaporeans, as we navigate these challenges carefully.”