Interstate travel SOP pending

PUTRAJAYA: The standard operating procedure for interstate travel is being drawn up and it will take a bit more time before it is allowed, says Khairy Jamaluddin.“I have discussed this matter with Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah and we have landed on a recommendation.

“We will present it to the National Security Council (NSC) soon. It is all there, but just give us a bit more time,” the Health Minister said.

He said the SOP could not be implemented immediately as many states were still behind in their vaccination programme.

“You all know that as soon as we open the borders, it’s asking for trouble. We all know this, so I’m asking for just a bit more time. Just be patient,” said Khairy in an interview at his ministry here yesterday.

He hinted that interstate travel could be allowed after all states had vaccinated at least 60% of their adult population.

“By the end of September, all states are expected to have fully vaccinated 60% of their adults,” he said.Currently, the country’s Covid-19 SOP still does not allow non-essential travel between states.

At present, only the Klang Valley, Labuan, Sarawak, Negri Sembilan, Perlis and Melaka have fully vaccinated 60% of their adult population.

The other states are still between 41.5% and 59%.

Meanwhile, the Langkawi Development Authority (Lada) has submitted proposals to the NSC on the new SOP for the reopening of the island on Sept 16 under the new travel bubble project.

Lada chief executive officer Nasaruddin Abdul Muttalib said together with the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry, the proposals were those deemed suitable for those who want to visit Langkawi after Sept 16.“We sent them (the proposals) to the NSC last week. They will evaluate it and hopefully our SOP proposals will be approved,” he said.

He said the proposals included a suggestion that those who had been fully vaccinated be allowed to bring along their children when they travelled to Langkawi.

He also said those who wanted to visit the island must apply for a travel permit from the police with proof such as hotel bookings and travel itinerary.

“The reason is that we don’t want anyone taking advantage and diverting from their travel plans,” he said, adding that the proposals also included punishments for those who violated the terms of the permit during the period of travel.

He said the final decision on the SOP would be announced by the NSC next week.

As part of preparations to welcome tourists to Langkawi, he said Lada had organised a course called the My Safe Langkawi certification programme for 1,238 people from the tourism industry on the island.

He said the six-day programme was held to help industry players become familiar with the new SOP to be implemented when the island reopens to tourists.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said local tourists would be able to visit Langkawi from Sept 16 under the pilot project of a tourism bubble.

He said other tourist destinations could operate once the local vaccination rate reached 80%.

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