Malaysia's govt council recommends reopening borders to quarantine-free travel on March 1

Travellers who enter Malaysia need to conduct a Covid-19 test before departure and upon arrival. PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR (BLOOMBERG, THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia's government advisory council has agreed to reopen the nation's borders to international visitors as early as March 1, without requiring travellers to undergo compulsory quarantine.

Travellers who enter Malaysia need to conduct a Covid-19 test before departure and upon arrival, the report cited National Recovery Council (NRC) chairman and former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin as saying.

“It was recommended by the NRC that the country's borders be fully opened in due time to support the nation's recovery.

"In connection to this, the council agrees that the nation's borders are to fully open as early as March 1 without the need for mandatory quarantine," he said in a statement after chairing the NRC meeting on Tuesday (Feb 8).

The NRC met earlier on Tuesday (Feb 8).

Mr Muhyiddin, however, noted that those entering the country would have to undergo Covid-19 tests before and right after arriving into the country as recommended by the Health Ministry.

"The opening of the nation's borders needs to be done accordingly and based on current risk assessment," he added.

The government must set a definite timeline to open the borders, Mr Muhyiddin was quoted as saying in the local media last week.

In an NRC meeting held in January, a committee comprising representatives from the Health Ministry was formed to map out the way forward, he said.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin on Feb 3 said his ministry will recommend to the government opening borders only after the nation's booster vaccination rate improves.

The ministry is still discussing the threshold values that it is comfortable with in regard to vaccination for children and booster shots for adults, he said.

Nearly 80 per cent of the total population have been fully vaccinated, with more than 53 per cent of adults having received booster shots.

Malaysia's borders have remained largely closed since the first lockdown was imposed in March 2020, save for citizens returning home, students, permanent residents and businessmen.

Malaysia recently resumed the vaccinated travel lane with Singapore, and has agreed to begin a travel corridor with Indonesia early this year.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.