Commuters think twice about cross-border trips due to week-long quarantine


  • Nation
  • Monday, 03 Aug 2020

Long road ahead: The Johor Causeway, between Malaysia and Singapore, has been empty since MCO was implemented on March 18.

JOHOR BARU: While the cross-border travel scheme between Singapore and Malaysia has been well received by many, frequent travellers remain unsure whether they should start travelling.

Many who are hoping to get a reprieve and see their loved ones and families after a hiatus of about five months are worried about the impact and financial woes after the immigration departments of both countries announced the new guidelines on Saturday.

Assistant chemist M. Eddie, 25, who is currently in Singapore, said he would most likely not apply to the Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA) scheme due to the required seven-day quarantine if he returned to Singapore from Malaysia. “I was looking forward to travelling under PCA as it has been months since I last saw my family.

“However, it is not a feasible option for me as I may have to use up my leave just to serve the quarantine, ” he said.

For now, Eddie said he was still undecided if he would want to go back to Johor under the PCA or wait until the border fully reopened.

S. Francis, 38, who was working as a security officer in Singapore before the border closed, said that as much as he wanted to get back to his job, he would not be able to do so due to financial constraints.

“I am unsure if my company will help pay for the Stay-Home Notice (SHN) accommodation or if I’ll have to bear the cost.

“I have been on unpaid leave for months and I will not be able to pay for anything else as I am already facing a tough time paying for my house and car, ” he said, adding that he was waiting for his company to inform him if it would assist him in the payment of the SHN.

“If my company can assist me, I’ll have no problem having to go through quarantine, ” he said.

According to Singapore’s Immigration and Checkpoints Authority website, the employer or employee will bear the cost of the employee’s accommodation for the SHN and post-arrival Covid-19 swab test in the city-state.

However, Mohammad Fansuri Md Halim, 30, who was working as a logistics coordinator in Singapore before the closing of the border, said he would still be returning to Singapore despite having to go through the seven-day quarantine.

“I was surprised to learn that we still have to go through quarantine as I thought that the quarantine requirement would no longer be necessary under the PCA.

“Regardless of that, I am still going back to Singapore as I have no other choice, ” he said.

He added that he hoped his company would help bear the cost of SHN accommodation.

On Saturday, both Singapore and Malaysia revealed the requirements, health protocols and application process relating to both the PCA and Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) schemes on the Malaysian Immigration Department and the Singapore Immigration and Checkpoints Authority websites.

Under the PCA, Singapore and Malaysia residents who hold long-term immigration passes are allowed to enter the other country for business and work purposes while the RGL enables cross-border travel for essential business and official purposes only.

Eligible travellers under the PCA will have to go through a seven-day quarantine, also known as the SHN in Singapore or the Home Surveillance Order (HSO) in Malaysia, upon entering the country of work from their home country.

They will also have to undergo a Covid-19 test during the quarantine period and will only be released from the SHN or HSO if they test negative.

They are also required to remain at their country of work for at least three consecutive months before returning to their home country for a short-term visit.

The PCA allows 2,000 Malaysians and Singaporeans to cross the Causeway and the Second Link every day while the RGL allows 400 Malaysians and Singaporeans to travel to and from the two countries every week.

Cross-border travel for both schemes is expected to start on Aug 17 while applications can be submitted from Aug 10.

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Singapore , Malaysia , PCA , RGL , border , travel , Covid-19

   

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