Langkawi bubble unveiled

Opening soon: An SOP list has been approved by the Covid-19 pandemic management special committee for foreign tourists to Langkawi. — Bernama

PUTRAJAYA: Foreign tourists can soon enjoy the sun, sea and sand of Langkawi as Malaysia tests the reopening of its borders with the Covid-19 endemic stage nearing.

Announcing an international tourism bubble initiative to take effect on Nov 15, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said foreign workers would also be allowed to enter the country, beginning with those for the plantation sector.

The Prime Minister said an SOP list had been approved by the Covid-19 pandemic management special committee and was in place for international tourists and foreign workers entering Malaysia.

“This pilot project will be carried out for three months to enable the Health Ministry and National Security Council to evaluate the effectiveness of this initiative before it can be implemented at other islands and tourist destinations,” he said in a statement after chairing the meeting yesterday.

The target group for the international tourism bubble initiative are high-spending tourists who have been fully vaccinated from countries under the Immigration Department’s, and Health and Foreign ministries’ permitted list.

Tourists are to stay in Langkawi for at least three days with a negative RT-PCR Covid-19 test result 72 hours before departure.

They are also required to have insurance coverage of at least US$80,000 (RM332,032) and are to download and register the MySejahtera app.

Foreign tourists arriving via the KL International Airport are to undergo rapid molecular testing while those flying directly to Langkawi will have to undergo RT-PCR test on the second day.

Those staying for only three days can use their second day Covid-19 swab test to depart from Malaysia while those coming for more than five days are to undergo a test on the fifth day. All costs will be borne by the tourists.

On foreign workers, Ismail Sabri said the meeting had approved the SOP – presented by the Human Resources Ministry – especially to meet the pressing need for workers in the plantation sector.

He however did not state when plantation companies could begin recruiting foreign workers.

“As for other sectors, the quota and when foreign workers will be allowed to enter the country will be based on the decision by the Foreign Workers Committee jointly chaired by the Home and Human Resources ministers,” the Prime Minister added.

The conditions listed for pre-departure include foreign workers having to be fully vaccinated, undergo RT-PCR tests 72 hours before leaving the country of origin and to have vaccination certificates.

They are to enter only via KL International Airport and KLIA2, with the exception of foreign workers from Thailand who are employed as crew for vessels who can enter via Bukit Kayu Hitam, Wang Kelian, Betong and Rantau Panjang.

They will undergo a seven-day quarantine, which will be coordinated by the Health Ministry and a RT-PCR test will be done on the second and fifth day of quarantine.

Those found to be positive will be isolated at private low-risk quarantine centres while those in categories three, four and five will be referred to private hospitals.

Once quarantine is completed and workers are confirmed to be negative, they will be sent to their employers.

“The success in bringing the country out of the pandemic does not solely depend on the government’s initiatives and strategies.

“In fact, it relies heavily on the level of SOP compliance among the public. So, please continue to put on face masks, practise physical distancing and always look after your personal hygiene and safety,” said the Prime Minister.

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