‘Omicron variant will not affect VTL-Land’

JOHOR BARU: The Covid-19 Omicron variant will not impact the land Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL-Land) or efforts to fully reopen the Malaysia and Singapore land borders, said Mentri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohammad.

He assured the public that Omicron would not affect the VTL-Land with Singapore, which started on Monday, as leaders from both countries agreed that the land border must be opened including at the Second Link.

“Both countries have shown their commitment to work together to reopen the border where eventually, it will reach the figure of daily travellers during pre-pandemic days.

“Singapore showed its concerns but I believe Malaysia should be able to manage the new variant,” he said at a charity event for the Johor Cerebral Palsy Association yesterday.On Monday, Hasni was part of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s delegation to Singapore where they met with leaders from the island republic.

“During the meeting with Singapore President Halimah Yacob, she expressed hope that the relationship between the two countries will continue to prosper.

Likewise, our Prime Minister said Malaysia would continue to work closely with our neighbour.

Speaking to reporters later yesterday, Hasni said the VTL-Land was a success on its first day of implementation.

This should act as a guide towards facilitating travel between Malaysia and Singapore, he added.

When contacted, Larkin Sentral building manager Mohd Helmi Mohd Affendi said that some 85% out of 2,880 travellers had used the VTL-Land to cross the Causeway on Monday.

“Public transportation figure from the Larkin Sentral Bus Terminal to the Queen Street Terminal stood at about 15% from the 1,440 travellers while from Singapore to here, the figure was at 70% from 1,440 travellers,” he added.

One person from Singapore tested positive for Covid-19 following a test at Larkin Sentral carried out on travellers from the island republic.

The passenger has since been placed at a quarantine centre here.

Under the VTL-Land arrangement, travellers are required to undergo a Covid-19 test two days before embarking on their journey.

Bernama reported that the Johor-Singapore Causeway, one of the busiest border crossings in the world, was reopened with the launch of the VTL-Land on Monday.

Ismail Sabri and his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong were at the Woodlands checkpoint to jointly launch the scheme.

The 97-year-old Causeway was closed to the usual 400,000-odd daily travellers since mid-March last year to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Malaysia said the initial stage of VTL-Land scheme would be limited to bus transportation with a daily quota not exceeding 1,500 travellers.

Other modes of land transportation will be included in stages with the daily quota of travellers to be increased on a weekly basis.

The initiative is to facilitate quarantine-free, seamless cross-border movement integrating health protocols, security and immigration clearance.

Travellers allowed to take part in this scheme are Malaysian and Singaporean citizens and permanent residents as well as holders of Malaysia and Singapore Long-Term Passes.

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