PUTRAJAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia on Thursday (Sept 10) announced that it will allow expatriates and professional visit pass-holders from 23 countries to enter, reversing a move on Monday (Sept 7) that was criticised by employers.
To curb the spread of Covid-19, Malaysia had announced that people coming from countries with more than 150,000 cases would be blocked from entering.
The enforced entry ban includes those coming in from the United States, Britain, India and Indonesia.
All foreign tourists have been banned from entry since March.
But Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Ismail Sabri Yaakob said on Thursday that a special Cabinet committee has decided to slightly relax the regulation that was enforced from Monday.
But these expatriates and professional visit pass-holders must first "obtain approval from the (Malaysian) Immigration Department before they can enter the country", he said.
"Their application must be accompanied by a supporting letter from the Malaysian Investment Development Authority or related agencies, " he said.
Employers had complained that the government should continue to allow expats and professional pass-holders to come in as their technical skills are needed to help the economy.
In another reversal of the ban that started on Monday, Datuk Seri Ismail said the government has also decided to allow permanent residents, as well as foreign spouses of Malaysian citizens, to enter Malaysia from these 23 countries with high infection rates.
But this group can make only a one-way journey into Malaysia and remain in the country.
Student pass-holders from the affected countries will also be allowed into Malaysia.
"All categories mentioned must get approval from Immigration beforehand, " he said.
The 23 countries are the US, Brazil, India, Russia, Peru, Columbia, South Africa, Mexico, Spain, Argentina, Chile, Iran, Bangladesh, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, France, Turkey, Italy, Germany, Iraq, the Philippines and Indonesia.