PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A realistic target for borders to reopen is early in the second quarter of this year, says Malaysia's Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.
"The Health Ministry will come up with the standard operating procedure (SOP) for border reopening, and there are several stages to go through for it to be approved.
"I will present the SOP to the Covid-19 pandemic management committee, which is chaired by the Prime Minister, and to the quartet of ministers led by Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein," Mr Khairy said. Mr Hishammuddin's “quartet” group of ministries is charged with making Covid-19 recommendations to the Cabinet.
"Finally, I will present it to the Cabinet for the approval, as it involves a huge national policy, as the decision to open up the country's borders is not under the Health Ministry," Mr Khairy said after visiting a private clinic offering a healthcare scheme for the bottom 40 per cent of households (PeKa B40) here on Saturday (Feb 19).
He added that the Prime Minister would make the official announcement on when the country's borders would fully reopen.
"It could be in the early second quarter of this year but only the Prime Minister can make such an announcement," he said.
It was previously reported that the National Recovery Council (NRC) had recommended for the country's borders to reopen for quarantine-free travel by March 1.
NRC chairman Muhyiddin Yassin said the reopening of the border was important to revive the country's economy, especially the business and tourism sectors, and hoped that Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob would agree to their proposal to reopen the country's borders by March 1.
On Friday, Mr Ismail said that the Health Ministry had been given two to three weeks to present proposals and the SOP to the Cabinet for the reopening of the country's borders.