Coronavirus: Malaysian government in talks with S'pore to open up borders for citizens of both countries

The Causeway between Malaysia and Singapore is seen empty on June 14, 2020. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia's government is in talks with Singapore with a view to opening the border to citizens of both countries, as Covid-19 lockdown measures are eased.

Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, Senior Minister (Security), said in a press conference on Friday (June 19) that Malaysia's Health Ministry has determined that Singapore and Brunei are green zone countries, and the government has agreed to allow citizens from both nations to enter Malaysia.

"However, if we are opening our country to Singapore and Brunei and allow them to enter without getting prior approval from the Immigration Department and not require them to undergo Covid-19 screening test, it must be reciprocated," he said, according to The Star.

"Singapore and Brunei must also allow our people to enter their countries without restrictions."

He said currently, however, Wisma Putra is in talks with its Singaporean counterparts.

"So the decision will now depend on the outcome of the talks on our proposal. We will wait and see," he added.

A spokesman for Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in response to media queries, said on Saturday (June 20) that Singapore has read media reports regarding Malaysia's decision to lift the quarantine requirement for certain groups of travellers from Singapore and other green zone countries, if they are screened and found to be negative for the Covid-19 virus.

The spokesman said Singapore was "prepared to work with Malaysia to address the needs of cross-border travellers, including short-term business and official travellers, and Singaporeans and Malaysians who were previously commuting between both countries."

"Such bilateral arrangements would have to include mutually agreed public health protocols, to preserve the public health and safety of citizens on both sides," the spokesman added.

"Both countries will require some time to work out the details on the gradual easing of border restrictions to ensure a stable recovery from the Covid-19 situation."

Ismail Sabri also announced at the press conference that foreigners seeking medical treatment under the medical tourism industry can also do so without the Immigration Department's approval, the Star reported.

However, these foreigners need to register with the Malaysian Health Tourism Council before coming in.

They are allowed to bring one person to accompany them and the person needs to undergo health screening at their country of origin or once they reach Malaysia.

Ismail Sabri said those coming under the medical tourism ticket need not be quarantined as they will be brought directly to the hospital of choice for their treatments.

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