‘Continue good measures to curb Omicron, avoid lockdown’

GEORGE TOWN: As concerns surrounding the Omicron variant loom over the country, tourism players are hoping for better awareness and enforcement as measures to tackle the new Covid-19 variant instead of a blanket lockdown.

Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) chief executive officer Yap Lip Seng said after having dealt with other variants of concern, the emergence of Omicron should not derail the current standard operating procedure (SOP), which had been put in place.

“It could be addressed with better awareness and enforcement, and the people should be empowered with sufficient knowledge to protect themselves at all times,” he said.

Yap said a blanket lockdown should not be the answer as it had already been proven to be ineffective besides damaging the economy.

“The main concern now is on international travel curbs that would set back reopening plans as we await full details on Omicron.

“As we are all aware, the tourism industry cannot be sustained on domestic tourism alone. We are in desperate need to restart and receive international tourists again,” he said.

Yap acknowledged that the Omicron was a cause for panic in the tourism industry as various governments were already imposing fresh sets of travel curbs as precautionary measures.

“However, health experts have yet to determine the implications of the new variant.

“They had in fact suggested the same SOP for the general public, such as wearing face masks, sanitising and so on.”

Penang Tourist Guides Association president Chin Poh Chin said they hoped the government would take reasonable, effective and tight measures to curb the spread of the new variant.

“But this should be delicately balanced. The industry has suffered continuous setbacks since the start of the pandemic and we really hope things can soon improve.

“At the moment, it is really hard to rely on domestic tourism.”

In Kota Kinabalu, tourism players in Sabah said strict preventive measures must be in place to prevent the Omicron variant.

Sabah Tourist Association chairman Tony Chew said it was best to put on hold any plans for the reopening of borders soon although many tourism players are excited to welcome more international tourists.

“Yes, we are all excited to make up for the two years that international tourism had been on a standstill but it would be worse if this variant enters Sabah,” he said and stressed on the need to monitor the new variant and understand it more before the borders are reopened.

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