The long-awaited green light for interstate travel is in sight, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said yesterday, citing the increase in Covid-19 vaccination rate among adults in the country.
He said he understood the feelings of the people who wanted to return to their hometowns to visit their parents, and that the good news would be announced once the vaccination rate reaches 90% for adults.
“I believe many people want to return to their kampungs… some have not seen their parents for more than a year, some parents are not healthy. My late mother, if I didn’t come back every week or two weeks once, she would cry when I phoned her.
“Many I believe are in a situation like I faced before. We understand but because of the pandemic, we have to restrict our movements, but I have said we will not restrict the movement of the people forever,” he said in an exclusive interview aired on local television stations last night.
He said he was confident that unrestricted interstate travel is fast approaching as the percentage of fully vaccinated adults is increasing and has reached over 86%.
He also explained that the government’s move to increase the adult vaccination rate from 80% to 90% before allowing unrestricted interstate travel was to ensure that no state is left behind once approval is announced.
“I just want to explain why the 80% suddenly became 90%. It is because there were still states where the percentage was lower when others had reached 80%.
“So to open up the whole of Malaysia, we do not want to leave behind the states that still have a lower percentage of their (adult) people (fully) vaccinated. That’s why we are waiting for 90% because we believe when it is 90%, each state’s average will be more than 80%. Thus once we reach 90%, we’ll announce. This will be good news for all Malaysians,” he said.
Ismail said that since the movement control order (MCO) was implemented to curb the spread of Covid-19, the tourism sector had been among the most heavily affected.
“It depends on interstate travel… as long as it is not allowed, tourism cannot be restarted and the tourism sector cannot be reopened,” he said.
On the MyTravelPass, the prime minister said the government would allow people to go abroad without having to apply for it once the 90% threshold is reached.
“In the past, we imposed flight restrictions because we did not allow our people to travel abroad, that is why we filtered as to who can leave the country, although for business we allow it and for students pursuing their studies or entering private universities overseas, we are allowing without MyTravelPass.
“But for tourism, we still don’t allow it. For husbands to meet their wives, we do allow but they must make an application but I want to say that when the vaccination rate has reached 90% for two doses, we will allow our people to go abroad without applying for the MyTravelPass again,” he said.