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5:23pm 25/03/2022
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Lifting of travel restrictions boosts post-pandemic recovery
By:Sin Chew Daily

The reopening of borders has a strong and positive effect in the post-pandemic economic recovery in both countries, besides rebuilding ties that have been disrupted by the virus.

Prime minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong said in a joint statement on Thursday that both countries had made tremendous progress in COVID-19 vaccination while similarly impressive progress had been made in VTL cross-border travels. And with both countries soon transitioning to the endemic phase, both governments have agreed to further open up their land borders.

PM Ismail has earlier this month announced that the country’s borders, shut for the past two years due to the pandemic, will officially reopen from April 1. All fully vaccinated travelers will be able to enter the country without having to go through mandatory quarantine. This also means Malaysians will be able to travel in and out of the country freely so long as the destination countries have also reopened their borders to us.

Singapore’s Lee also announced on Thursday that the COVID-19 screening and quarantine procedures will be drastically simplified, making Singaporeans easier to travel out of the country.

Full reopening of the borders between Malaysia and Singapore has been much anticipated by people in both countries as they will soon be able to travel by land freely without having to take screening tests or be quarantined.

The reopening of borders has a strong and positive effect in the post-pandemic economic recovery in both countries, besides rebuilding ties that have been disrupted by the virus.

During an earlier meeting between health minister Khairy Jamaluddin and his Singapore counterpart Ong Ye Kung, new border control measures have been set out to facilitate travelers from both countries to cross to the other side for vacation, business or visitation.

Just a short causeway away from Singapore, Johor Bahru and its surrounding areas will benefit the most from the reopening of borders, as its economy is highly dependent on Singapore, especially the retail. F&B and services sectors. With people from both sides soon able to travel freely and safely, local businesses are bound to benefit tremendously from the remarkably improved tourist consumption.

According to the statistics of tourism, arts and culture ministry, Singapore was our biggest source of tourists in 2019 with over 10 million arrivals. Singaporeans are also the biggest spenders here, spending a total of RM20.5 billion in 2019. With tourist arrivals drastically reduced over the past two years because of the virus, many people are hoping that things will be back to pre-pandemic levels as soon as possible.

Reopening the borders will enable both Malaysia and Singapore to once again reconnect with the outside world, significantly boosting businesses and in particular, the tourist industry.

Local travel operators, aviation and other tourism-related industries have begun to prepare themselves for the April reopening as soon as the announcement was made by the government. Those in the outbound sector are also actively wooing customers eager to travel overseas after a two-year hiatus.

However, as more than 20,000 new cases are still being reported in this country every day, some Malaysians still have serious reservations. As such, the government must draw up appropriate control measures to strike a balance between economic recovery and containment of the virus.

Indeed, reopening is a great thing for the country, but Malaysians must continue to exercise high level of caution and take the necessary precaution, even though an overwhelming majority of reported new cases are either asymptomatic or with very light symptoms and the situation now is well manageable to our healthcare system.

While announcing border reopening on Thursday, Singapore also announced to further liberalize the number of people at social gatherings from March 29, and they can choose whether to put on their face masks outdoor.

Singapore’s Lee said the Omicron wave has passed its peak and is now receding, although he reminded Singaporeans not to let their guard down and continue to comply with the new anti-virus protocols.

Over here in Malaysia, we believe we will soon be able to drastically relax our travel restrictions, too, but at this juncture, we are still unable to do so. In the meantime, many Malaysians remain skeptical about Singapore’s new anti-virus measures.

Although many restrictions have been lifted as the country prepares itself to transition to the endemic phase, wearing of face masks in public remains very much necessary.

Before we can safely live with the virus and enjoy a greater degree of freedom, it is absolutely essential for us to take the necessary protective measures, especially for senior citizens, people suffering from chronic illnesses and unvaccinated children.

Get yourself vaccinated and boosted as soon as possible. Protect ourselves and people around us!

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