Malaysian Prime Minister hints at border reopening soon

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Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said allowing international tourists to visit Malaysia would also help boost the tourism industry. AFP

Malaysia’s borders look likely to reopen soon, with Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob saying the health ministry’s views will be sought to “slightly relax” the current protocols.

This move would further boost economic growth and recovery, according to the prime minister on January 25.

He said allowing international tourists to visit Malaysia would also help boost the tourism industry, which had suffered due to the closure of the country’s borders.

“We have seen countries relaxing their SOPs (standard operating procedures) for international tourists. Maybe this can be considered for Malaysia.

“When the booster jab exercise is completed, maybe we can consider relaxing the SOPs a bit.

“However, all this will depend on views from the health ministry,” he said when addressing a gathering of staff from the Prime Minister’s Department.

He acknowledged that the strict policies have had their effect, including on the tourism industry, which was now depending on domestic tourists to revive the sector.

“So when more people have received their vaccine booster shots, maybe we can consider relaxing the SOPs. If we can reopen our borders, the economy will also improve,” he added.

The country’s borders have remained closed since March 2020 due to Covid-19 concerns.

The only exception was the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) scheme with Singapore.

The scheme allowed people from both countries to travel either by air or land without the need for quarantine as long as they tested negative for Covid before and during arrival.

However, the number of travellers allowed to cross the Causeway is temporarily halved amid concerns over the Omicron variant. A similar capacity cut was also introduced for all air VTLs, along with stricter testing requirements.

THE STAR (MALAYSIA)/ASIA NEWS NETWORK