PETALING JAYA: Interstate travel may be allowed by March 18 if the number of new Covid-19 cases shows a downward trend, says Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba.
The Health Minister said the ministry would put forward a recommendation to the government but it would not be a blanket reopening of state borders.
He said domestic travel restrictions had also been imposed in other countries such as Australia, China, South Korea and Singapore.
“So we have decided that there will be no interstate travelling until March 18, ” he said, adding that the decision would be reviewed from time to time.
“After March 18, we will see if the data has shown any improvements as we have already succeeded in flattening the curve at the moment, ” he told a news portal.
Dr Adham said the government had learned from a year of imposing the movement control order and its various levels such as the enhanced, conditional and recovery MCO.
“We know that interstate travel restriction is one of the measures needed to reduce the number of cases, ” he said.
Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah previously said interstate travel ban was likely to continue until at least 70% of the population was vaccinated.
Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that inter-district travel was allowed except in Sabah from yesterday.
Dr Adham also said the travel ban was the most stringent maximum measure to be imposed but “the government intends to balance life and livelihoods”.
“We will take measures to allow interstate travel based on certain matters. This is important. We will try to develop green bubbles to allow travel between states under the recovery MCO.
“We will ensure that if the public can abide by the SOP, they can carry on. If they are using MySejahtera, they can find out and identify hotspots, ” he said.
The minister added that travellers must be aware of the areas they want to visit and if it has been categorised as green, yellow, orange or red zones.
Meanwhile, Dr Adham said the ministry’s investigation found no evidence of queue-jumping in receiving the Covid-19 vaccine.
He clarified that confusion might have occurred as those who had appointments to be vaccinated did not turn up or arrived late.
“What happened was, after investigations, I found that those who were supposed to be vaccinated did not turn up or did not come on time.
“The issue is that when we open a vial, six people need to be vaccinated at one go. During registration, some of them were there and when it was time to be administered, they were not.
“So we were forced to find others to avoid wasting the vaccine.
“We still gave the jabs to frontliners. Not to those who were accused of getting it because of their connections, ” he said.
Dr Adham clarified that state executive councillors, elected federal and state lawmakers as well as senators were listed in the first phase of the vaccination programme, qualifying them to be vaccinated as frontliners.