Malaysia to open up for tourism and travel from 1 April
Malaysia is to reopen its borders for international travel on 1 April, offering a significant boost to the country’s hospitality and ‘severely affected’ tourism businesses.
Announcing the date, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said visitors to the country who are fully vaccinated will not be required to quarantine upon arrival. The same applies to Malaysian people returning home.
However, everyone entering Malaysia will have to take a RT-PCR test two days before departure and a rapid test (RTK) upon arrival.
“Citizens with valid travel documents can enter and leave the country as they did before the pandemic, and foreigners can also move in and out of Malaysia without the need to apply for MyTravelPass, which will be abolished,” the Malaysian prime minister said.
He said that his announcement was “much awaited by the people and would revitalize the economy of the country as a whole, particularly the tourism industry, which was severely affected as a result of the pandemic”.
The country’s borders have been shut since March 2020, while entry of foreign workers has been frozen due to the pandemic.
Nearly 98% of Malaysia’s adult population are fully vaccinated, while more than half have received booster shots.
Although the country’s daily cases have shot up past the 30,000 mark due to the recent Omicron outbreak, 99% of the infections are mild or asymptomatic.
Mustapa Mohamed, a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy), said: “This has been much awaited for by all parties, especially the tourism sector, which has been very badly affected by the pandemic which hit the country to the extent of the movement control order (MCO) being enforced from the middle of March 2020.
“For as long as its international borders are not reopened, it is rather difficult for Malaysia’s economy to fully recover hence, one of the pre-condition’s for its economic recovery is reopening of its borders.”
The move is part of a ‘transition phase’ during which Malaysia will coexist with and manage the virus.
The Prime Minister also announced the relaxation of various domestic rules. These includes allowing restaurants and other eating places to open around-the-clock and events to run at full capacity. He added that while operational hours for businesses will no longer be limited, face masks will remain mandatory.
The transition “is an exit strategy to allow us all to return back to an almost normal life after nearly two years fighting Covid-19,” Ismail Sabri said.
He also said the government has been working to establish vaccinated travel lanes with Thailand, Brunei and Indonesia, like its current arrangement with Singapore.
Malaysian tourism ministry statistics show the country lost about 165 billion ringgit ($39 billion) in tourist spending for 2021. Gross domestic product contracted in the third quarter of last year, down by 4.5%, after some Covid-19 restrictions were re-imposed.