WE can finally travel again, and this time, not just within the country but out of Malaysia too, albeit only to a handful of destinations at the moment.
Judging from news reports and social media posts, many have been travelling since the ban was lifted on Monday, mostly to balik kampung. Others have stated that they are waiting to take advantage of next week’s Maulidur Rasul public holiday, which falls on Oct 19.
For some Sabahans living out of the state like myself, balik kampung can only officially start on Nov 1, as announced by Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor on Wednesday.
The SOP for travelling within Malaysia includes being fully vaccinated (children under 18 must be accompanied by at least one fully vaccinated adult) and wearing masks at all times during your journey.
For travel to Sabah, there is an added measure: You need to take a Covid-19 test within three days of your flight.
And those wishing to go to Sarawak have to fulfil some pre-entry screening requirements that include taking a Covid-19 test at least three days before one’s flight and making an application via the enterSarawak app. Your application must then be approved before you can proceed with your journey.
Meanwhile, the SOP for travelling abroad includes undergoing a mandatory seven-day quarantine – shortened on Friday from 14 days in the initial announcement made last week – upon returning from your trip, and getting tested for Covid-19. This you would need to do several times, depending on the requirements of the airline as well as the country you are visiting; for Malaysia, you would need to test three days before leaving your holiday destination, and again upon returning home.
Quarantines could be done at a designated centre or at home, depending on the situation.
Some of the countries that Malaysians can travel to for now include Britain, Egypt, Finland, France, Iceland, the Maldives, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States, with a few more nations set to open their borders to us by next month.
All this easing of restrictions certainly brings much relief to everyone, especially tourism-related business owners and workers, retailers, and regular Joes and Josies who just want to have a break from that overburdened work desk at home. A real, proper break where you actually get to swim in the cool waters of a river or feel the sand between your toes on a beach, and not just see it on your screen.
Sure, there are still some “holiday-hesitant” folk who wish to wait a little while longer before proceeding to book that flight to somewhere. That’s fine too – do whatever makes you feel safe and comfortable.But to folks who are already out there having the time of your life, please remember that we are still not completely out of the woods yet. Really, no country truly is.
We have all been properly informed, notified and reminded many times by the authorities (and the media) of the SOP, so there is really no excuse for not adhering to them. Or worse, suddenly “forgetting” what they are.
We have followed basic safety measurements – mask on, physical distance, sanitise, isolate when ill – for close to two years now, so surely continuing with the same rules for a while longer won’t be such a difficult thing to do, right?
The end goal here is to learn how to live with Covid-19. And I think we have done a good job so far. It would be a shame if all this freedom, for which we have waited patiently for so long, is jeopardised simply because we can’t follow simple rules.