Allow vaccinated Malaysians returning from Singapore to quarantine at home: Johor

Since May 13, Malaysia imposed a strict 14-day quarantine for those entering from Singapore.
Since May 13, Malaysia imposed a strict 14-day quarantine for those entering from Singapore.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

JOHOR BARU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The state government joins the growing call for fully vaccinated Malaysians in Singapore to be allowed to quarantine at home instead of spending 14 days at a designated quarantine centre.

State Investment, Cooperatives, Entrepreneurship Development and Human Resources committee chairman Datuk Mohd Izhar Ahmad said it was about time this decision was reviewed to give some leeway to those fully vaccinated.

"We have discussed this in a special meeting with Mentri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohammad and hope that the Federal Government will look into our proposal on this matter.

"We also want to help ease the financial burden of the vaccinated Malaysians who want to return home," he said in an interview.

Asked about an online petition by Malaysians in Singapore, which has garnered more than 16,800 signatures to date, asking for a review on the duration of the 14-day quarantine, Mr Mohd Izhar acknowledged that the pandemic has caused a lot of hardship and the government should be compassionate and listen to their suggestions.

"Giving some leeway or incentives for those who have been fully vaccinated will surely encourage more people to get fully vaccinated," he said.

The Star had previously reported that with the high number of those vaccinated against Covid-19 on both ends of the Johor Causeway, many were hopeful that Malaysia and Singapore would slowly begin to ease restrictions, especially for those who have been fully vaccinated.

Thousands of Malaysians in the island republic have either received one or two doses of the vaccine.

They hope the Malaysian government will remove the 14-day mandatory quarantine at a centre to enable them to return home to spend time with their loved ones.

The quarantine requirements at one of the busiest border crossings in the world have been in place for more than one-and-a-half years.

Currently, a person returning to Malaysia, then going back to Singapore, will need to be quarantined for 28 days (14 days in Malaysia and 14 days in Singapore) at a designated facility.

The cost is roughly about RM2,200 on the Malaysian side and S$2,200 (RM6,600) on the Singaporean side.

Earlier, the Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA) required Malaysians to serve only a seven-day home quarantine and undergo a swab test.

However, since May 13, Malaysia imposed a strict 14-day quarantine for those entering from Singapore after the country reported the spread of new viral variants in the community.

The Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) was then suspended.

Meanwhile, on another matter involving investments in the state, Mr Mohd Izhar said they were now looking into a pilot project for companies in the state to operate under strict standard operating procedures.

"So, for companies operating at 60 per cent workforce, maybe we allow them an additional 20 per cent more leeway for workers to return, and for those fully closed, we allow 20 per cent workforce to return to work," he said, adding that this pilot project would no longer differentiate between essential or non-essential services, but apply to all businesses that could adopt and comply with the strict SOP.

He said this included companies which could get all their workers fully vaccinated.

He added that there was an urgent need to tackle this issue on a case-by-case basis instead of a blanket ruling as it was hurting the economy.