England relaxes restrictions for fully vaccinated Malaysians


PETALING JAYA: Malaysia is among 17 countries whose fully vaccinated citizens will benefit from the easing of travel restrictions to England starting Oct 4.

Those who have received the full course of the AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna or Janssen vaccines need not take a pre-departure Covid-19 test or quarantine for 10 days upon arriving in England, according to https://www.gov.uk/

The latest update is good news for people like postgraduate student Suyin Chia, 33, who will be starting her master’s programme in the United Kingdom.

Now, she plans to delay her flight so that she can benefit from the lifting of quarantine.

By travelling a little later than initially planned, Chia will save over £100 (RM573) in PCR tests and quarantine costs, including for food deliveries and so on.

“I initially booked my flight for Oct 2.

“With the new changes, I’ll be postponing my flight to Oct 5 and bypass all of that. I’ll only need to do a PCR test on day two after arrival,” she said.

If she were to travel now, she said she would have to take a PCR test three days before departure, test again upon arrival on day two and eight, and self-quarantine for 10 days, she said.

“I am definitely very relieved with the new changes,” she said.

However, Chia found it odd that recipients of the Sinovac vaccine are not included in the United Kingdom’s relaxed travel restrictions, even though it is recognised as a valid proof of immunity by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and by some Schengen countries.

“I think eventually WHO has to move Sinovac from the emergency list to the officially recognised list, and the rest of the European Union, and the United Kingdom, will follow.

“Until then, it’ll disrupt a lot of regular folk’s travel,” she said.

Consultant Najwa Ahmad, 31, said that the UK’s relaxed travel restrictions will be a good testing ground on how people are able to live with the virus in the endemic stage later.

“The virus is here to stay, so there is no point having restrictions that are redundant. Having policies like this is good because not only will it test certain processes, in terms of Covid-19 testing for example, but it also provides more data for people on travel and vaccinations,” she said.

“The reality is that travel borders are already opening up, so having Malaysians going abroad when vaccinated is a good move.”

However, she also called for improvement on vaccine equity.

“Although our vaccine rollout is going well, we still need to improve as we shouldn’t be punishing people just because there are delays in the vaccination process,” Najwa said.

She also said the United Kingdom must look into recognising Sinovac and other WHO-approved vaccines.

“If the UK only looks at western vaccines, then that is unfair. Not a lot of people have that kind of access, and countries don’t really have control over what vaccines they can buy,” she said.

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