SINGAPORE - Malaysians who are Singapore permanent residents working here will be able to return home for short-term leave before coming back to Singapore for work.
From next Monday (Jan 11), they can apply for the Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA) scheme, which will let them return to Malaysia for a short time after working in Singapore for at least 90 days.
Previously, workers had to be sponsored by their employers to qualify for the PCA scheme. Under the PCA, approved travellers must have stayed in their country of employment for at least 90 days before returning to their home country for short-term home leave.
The change, announced by the High Commission of Malaysia in Singapore on Facebook on Friday (Jan 8), comes ahead of Chinese New Year festivities, when many Malaysian Singapore PRs working here usually return to Malaysia to celebrate with their families.
When they return to Singapore, they will serve a 14-day stay-home notice at a dedicated facility before taking a Covid-19 test.
It is not clear if the daily quota of 2,000 travellers under the PCA will remain the same. Those who join the scheme will have to foot the cost of their accommodations for stay-home notice, swab test and medical treatment, if required.
Only overland travel is allowed under the scheme via the Woodlands Causeway and Tuas Second Link.
The PCA is a travel lane between Singapore and Malaysia that started on Aug 10.
It is one of two special bilateral travel arrangements, with the other being the Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL), which allows for short-term travel of up to 14 days.
The RGL applies only to essential business or official travellers, and requires a much stricter, controlled itinerary. For instance, these travellers cannot use public transport except for private-hire cars and taxis, unlike those under the PCA.
The announcement is a small relaxation of travel rules between Singapore and Malaysia, which almost completely wound down when Malaysia shut its borders in March.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, more than 300,000 travellers used the Causeway every day. Among these were about 100,000 Malaysians who commuted daily between Singapore and Malaysia.
The coronavirus situation in Malaysia has showed signs of worsening lately, with the authorities reporting 3,027 new coronavirus cases, a daily high, on Thursday. Its health officials have warned that Covid-19 cases there could hit 8,000 a day by the middle of March if current infection rates are not brought under control.
In November, Singapore required all travellers with recent travel history to Malaysia to serve a 14-day stay-home notice at dedicated facilities upon arrival here, up from the previous requirement of a seven days stay-home notice at their place of residence.
Singapore reported 23 new Covid-19 cases on Friday, 21 of whom were imported and two in the community.