Malaysia to allow interstate travel, tourism when 90% of adults are vaccinated against Covid-19

Tourists arriving at Langkawi's airport after the island opened to domestic visitors on Sept 16, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia will allow more tourist destinations to reopen to local travellers, lifting its inter-state travel ban once at least 90 per cent of its adult population are vaccinated against Covid-19.

It will also ease restrictions nationwide on certain leisure activities from Oct 1 for those who are fully vaccinated.

Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said on Wednesday (Sept 22): "We will allow tourism centres, islands (to reopen), and interstate travel with the condition of achieving 90 per cent adult vaccination according to Health Ministry's data."

The decision was made earlier in the day by the special committee handling the pandemic, which is chaired by the premier.

As at Tuesday, Malaysia had fully vaccinated 80 per cent of its adult population, or 57.5 per cent of its total population.

It expects to fully reopen the economy by the end of October, when nearly all of its adult population will be vaccinated.

The ban on interstate travel was imposed in early January and has remained in place for much of the year as the country dealt with a worsening coronavirus crisis.

However, high vaccination rates have resulted in the daily case numbers showing signs of plateauing in recent weeks.

Malaysia recorded 14,990 new cases on Wednesday, a drop from 15,759 cases on Tuesday.

It also recorded 334 deaths on Tuesday, bringing the total fatality tally to 24,078 deaths. However, health officials have said most of deaths reported recently were backlogged cases that had occurred earlier, with the seven-day average of deaths dropping to 101 deaths a day.

Mr Ismail said wellness and massage centres where the operators and staff are fully vaccinated will be allowed to operate from Oct 1.

Selected tourist attractions such as zoos, farms and aquariums will also be allowed to operate once its staff and visitors are fully vaccinated, he added.

Malaysia has resumed domestic travel via a travel bubble involving Langkawi on Sept 16.

More than 10,000 people have travelled to the island in the first week, with single-digit positive Covid-19 case numbers reported during pre- departure screenings every day. This has led to the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry declaring the travel bubble a success.

The ministry previously proposed that travel be allowed to three other major tourism destinations - Genting Highlands, Tioman island and Melaka state.

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