Malaysia eyes reopening as 90% herd immunity rate nears

Interstate travel and eased restrictions for fully-vaccinated individuals could be a reality in less than a month's time.

The business events sector, which has been placed under the social activities category, will open further behind in phase four in November or December.
The business events sector, which has been placed under the social activities category, will open further behind in phase four in November or December. Photo Credit:Getty Images/06photo

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

Based on the current rate of vaccination, the PM expects this to happen in some two to three weeks' time.

In the same statement, released on Facebook, he said 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".

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

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

And starting 1 October, all tourism centres will resume operations and cruise ships will be 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 the reopening plan, has filed an appeal letter to the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) urging authorities to move forward the resumption.

For event professionals, face-to-face meetings can only resume in phase three at 50% capacity, where seminars, workshops and talks also have to be conducted online except for in-house sessions.

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

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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