Lifting of interstate travel ban depends on nationwide Covid-19 situation, says Masidi

KOTA KINABALU: Any lifting of the interstate travel ban for Sabah will depend on the Covid-19 situation in other states, says Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun.

"We are still looking at Covid-19 data from other states," he said.

The state Local Government and Housing Minister said this in response to the growing call from tourism industry players for the state to allow the lifting of interstate travel ban.

Masidi said he did not want to commit to any timeframe towards lifting the interstate travel ban as tourism players continue to plead with the government to consider lifting the restrictions by putting in place strict standard operating procedures (SOP).

Currently, only Sabahans can enter the state while non-Sabahans can only enter for work matters or family emergencies, and police permits are required.

They are also required to take a swab test 72 hours before their departure for Sabah and those without symptoms are not required to quarantine upon arrival.

Sabah also retains a ban on inter-district travel but softens it by creating six zones where people within those zones are able to travel between the districts.

However, tourism players have been pushing to allow for the lifting of inter-zone and interstate travel restrictions as the shutdown and movement control order since last year have brought the industry to a standstill.

Weighing on the plight of the tourism industry, Warisan treasurer general Terrence Siambun said the state must take steps immediately to allow interstate travel as current policies have left tourism players in a lurch.

He said the state government led by Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) should not be too dependent on the Federal Government on matters relating to Covid-19 management.

Siambun said the state government must act on the appeal made by several of Sabah's tourism and hospitality associations to allow interstate travel.

Siambun said the tourism and hospitality sector in Sabah is set to face a bleak moment as the international airline industry is not expected to recover soon.

He said domestic travel is needed as an immediate measure for the multi-billion ringgit industry to stay afloat until the pandemic ebbs worldwide.

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