Monday, October 18, 2021

Govt won’t simply open borders, says PM

Ismail Sabri Yaakob says permission for entry will depend on the Covid-19 situation in the travellers' countries of origin.

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The government will not arbitrarily open the country’s borders to foreign travellers as permission for entry will depend on the Covid-19 situation in their countries of origin, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said today.

He said at the moment, the government only allows those who are fully vaccinated to enter the country while the borders remain closed to tourists.

“If we are to open the country’s borders to foreign travellers, every development (related to Covid-19) in their countries of origin will be taken into consideration.

“In every decision, we (the government) will seek advice and recommendations from the health ministry based on its risk assessments. We will not arbitrarily open the borders,” he said during question time at the Dewan Negara sitting.

He was replying to senator Razali Idris on whether the government had a backup crisis management plan if the number of Covid-19 cases spikes again following the spread of new variants if the borders are opened.

Ismail said there were six factors to be considered before foreign travellers are granted entry to Malaysia, namely the number of Covid-19 cases recorded by their countries in the past 14 days, the incidence rate per million population, the mortality rate per million population, cumulative mortality rate, recovery index, and cumulative total of cases in their respective countries.

“If the numbers are spiking in their countries, we will probably change our policy from allowing (entry) to not allowing entry. We are flexible in this regard,” he said.

However, he said permission for entry would be subject to SOPs and other terms and conditions, including mandatory quarantine at designated locations to curb the spread of Covid-19.

He said the government was constantly improving the SOPs and that beginning Aug 12, had allowed fully vaccinated citizen and non-citizen travellers to apply for mandatory quarantine at home.

“Overall, the government has made various preparations and the decision on SOP relaxation was done cautiously by taking into account global developments with the priority on reviving the economy,” he said.

To senator Muhammad Zahid Md Arip on certain countries allowing entry only to recipients of particular vaccines, Ismail said the government would try to negotiate with them to allow entry to Malaysians.

“We cannot control their policies, it’s their right. What’s important is to negotiate to enable Malaysians who receive vaccines other than those allowed in the countries to be granted entry,” he said.

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