Malaysia may do away with quarantine or shorten it for fully-vaxxed travellers from select countries

KUALA LUMPUR: The government is thinking of doing away with the mandatory quarantine or shortening it for fully-vaccinated travellers from certain countries, says Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

The National Recovery Council chairman said this consideration would be based upon mutual recognition of vaccine certificates as practised by several countries.

''This is a positive development which I think will revive economic activities, especially in the tourism sector, international conventions, retail and others.

''This will give convenience to business travellers and social visitors arriving in our country.

''I hope the reopening of our borders, which is an integral aspect of our recovery, could be implemented soon and safely,'' he told the press after chairing a council meeting here on Friday (Oct 15).

Also present at the meeting were captains of industry and several Opposition leaders including PKR's Subang MP Wong Chen, DAP's Stampin MP Chong Chieng Jen, Parti Amanah Negara's Kuala Selangor MP Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad and Upko president Tan Sri Bernard Giluk Dompok.

When asked, Muhyiddin said the border opening was being discussed at a working committee meeting chaired by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob on Friday.

''The opening will be for those who are fully vaccinated with a recognised digital vaccine certificate.

''Maybe we can have a pre-departure swab test requirement but we are looking at doing away with the mandatory quarantine, or imposing a shorter one.

''These are being discussed and will be decided on very soon,'' he said.

The council meeting started with Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin briefing attendees on the latest Covid-19 indicators and development, which Muhyiddin said he was ''pleased to see.''

''This is especially (regarding) the downward trend of daily positive cases, significant decrease in ICU bed usage by Covid-19 patients, as well as the (high) vaccination rate among the adult population,'' he said.

Muhyiddin noted that the meeting also focused on providing assistance to the two most affected groups, namely small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and the underprivileged, amid recovery from the pandemic.

He said a special task force will be set up to identify the degree to which certain industries and sectors have been affected, and how they can be helped.

''Assisting the SMEs in financing and staffing problems, as well as the distribution of food aid to the underprivileged, were discussed.

''In view of the existing aid (given) to the SMEs by various ministries and agencies, we feel a detailed analysis is necessary to identify the affected industries and sectors based on the latest statistics.

''This is to ensure that both short and long-term targeted solutions can be implemented,'' he said.

Based on a special paper presented by the SME Association Malaysia at the meeting, financing and staffing issues were the two biggest challenges they faced.

''The task force will present its detailed findings and recommendations to the council in a month for consideration," Muhyiddin added.

''For example, we want to know how many workers are needed and how can we help, either by training locals for certain sectors. Or, if there is a need, we will allow entry to qualified and healthy foreign workers to take up the jobs,'' he said.

The task force will involve the Finance Ministry, Bank Negara Malaysia, International Trade and Industry Ministry, Human Resources Ministry and other relevant ministries.

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