Since 18 March 2020, Malaysia has been through numerous lockdowns to curb the spread of Covid-19. The implementation of the first Movement Control Order (MCO) last year saw us staying home without the chance to move freely across state borders. But don’t lose hope just yet as the government is considering restarting interstate travel in Malaysia with SOPs in the very near future.
Opening of State Borders – Interstate Travels with Sops
On 3 September 2021, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin stated that Malaysians could be allowed to travel interstate with SOPs in the near future. He urged everyone to be patient as the ministry is ironing out the finer details and SOPs before presenting the plan to the National Security Council (MKN).
What’s hindering the lifting of the interstate travel ban is an uneven vaccination rate. While Malaysia has seen some of the fastest vaccination rates in the entire world, there are still states that are lagging. That being said, the vaccination rate is expected to reach 90 percent across all states by the end of October 2021.
On 22 September 2021, the Special Committee on Pandemic Management agreed to the opening of tourism centers, islands, and tourist areas as well as interstate travel throughout Malaysia when the adult population vaccination rate reaches 90 percent. In anticipation of this, The Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture has already put into place a travel bubble to Langkawi as a Tourism Recovery Plan initiative.
Langkawi Opening as a Pilot Destination: What You Need to Know
As an initiative under the Tourism Recovery Plan, the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, and Culture has announced that Langkawi will be opened again as a pilot destination to fully vaccinated local tourists, starting from 16 September 2021. The Langkawi travel bubble will be used as a starting point for reviving other domestic tourism destinations and international borders. This is coupled with a comprehensive list of interstate travel SOPs to ensure everyone’s safety. Finally, Malaysians can travel interstate.
SOPs for the Langkawi Travel Bubble
- All travelers aged 18 and above and children aged between seven to 17 have to take an RT-PCR or RTK-Antigen test prior to their trip.
- All travelers must be fully vaccinated for at least 14 days. Children below the age of 18 who are not vaccinated must travel with fully vaccinated parents.
- Tourists are required to show their Covid-19 Vaccine E-Certificate when requested by authorities.
- Interstate travels are to be made via flight or land services. Those who wish to travel by land will have to book their transportation via a tour agency.
- Most tourist attractions and activities (with the exception of spas) will be allowed to operate. This includes nature parks, aquariums, zoos, museums, galleries, theme parks, and a variety of activities such as watersports, jungle trekking, hiking, camping, island hopping, and more.
- Facilities in hotels and homestays such as swimming pools, gyms, and lounges will also be allowed to open as usual.
More than 10,000 people have traveled to Langkawi in the first week, with single-digit positive Covid-19 case numbers reported during pre-departure tests every day which led to the ministry declaring the travel bubble a success.
Similar to Langkawi, the ministry is planning to expand interstate travels with SOPs and reopen several tourist destinations to fully vaccinated tourists soon. The locations include Genting Highlands, Cameron Highlands, Fraser’s Hill, and Janda Baik. Island destinations like Pulau Redang, Pulau Pangkor, Pulau Tioman and states like Melaka will also be reopened. Out of these destinations, three destinations have been shortlisted to reopen on the 1st of October which are Melaka, Pulau Tioman, and Genting Highlands.
Live Update: Current Malaysian Interstate Travel SOPs
As more restrictions are eased for fully vaccinated individuals, here are the current SOPs for interstate travel in Malaysia as announced by MKN.
- Inter-district travel is allowed for fully vaccinated individuals. The 10-kilometer travel radius restriction has also been lifted.
- Vehicles can also be seated at full capacity (per its seating capacity) provided all passengers are fully vaccinated.
- Long-distance married couples, as well as parents and guardians who have children under the age of 18, are allowed interstate travel subject to PDRM confirmation.
- Tourism activities are allowed, but only within the same state and for fully vaccinated individuals. Hotel and homestay operators must ensure that their guests show their COVID-19 digital vaccination certificate or card.
#KitaJagaKita: Stay Safe No Matter Where You Are
Although you may be fully vaccinated, you are still susceptible to the Covid-19 virus and can transmit it to others that you come into contact with. No matter where you are, do not take this virus lightly and always follow the authorities’ advice including interstate travel SOPs strictly. As we move into a new norm of Covid-19 being endemic, let’s continue to do our part in preventing its spread.
Stay safe! #CarsomeCares.