Recovery Council proposes reopening borders on March 1

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The National Recovery Council (NRC) has proposed for the full reopening of the country’s borders as early as March 1, without the need for mandatory quarantine.

However, its chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said travellers must undergo the Covid-19 test before their departure and upon arrival in Malaysia, as per the recommendation of the Health Ministry.

“The reopening of international borders needs to be implemented in a planned manner and based on current risk assessments,” he told a press conference after chairing the NRC meeting today.

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Muhyiddin said the reopening of borders would support the country’s economic recovery process and other industries related to tourism.

“By doing so, the country’s recovery process will be accelerated, where the investors can come, international tourists can visit and subsequently revive our tourism and aviation industries.”

Asked if the reopening is only for selected countries, Muhyiddin replied: “The reopening is for all countries.”

This, Muhyiddin said as Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who was also present, told the meeting that the Omicron Covid-19 variant is now present in many countries.

“As such, we cannot be selective by allowing only selected countries.”

He said should the government agree with the suggestion by the council, further preemptive Covid-19 measures, specific conditions and the standard operating procedures (SOP) such as pre-departure Covid-19 PCR test and others will be announced by the Health Ministry.

Muhyiddin said based on the briefing earlier by the Health Ministry he was confident that the country’s public health system can manage daily positive Covid-19 cases based on past experiences.

On Nov 11, Muhyiddin told a press conference that Malaysia’s borders should be opened to international visitors by Jan 1 this year.

The reopening, however, had been pushed back indefinitely following the spike in infections involving the Omicron variant.

Malaysian borders have remained largely closed since March 2020, when the first national lockdown was imposed.

Certain exemptions, however, have been made for students, Malaysians returning home from abroad, permanent residents and businessmen.

Meanwhile, when asked about the upcoming Johor State Election, Muhyiddin said as Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) president he was hoping that some relaxation on the SOP will be given during the campaigning period.

“I hope there is a flexibility given to allow the democratic system to run more transparently and those who are involved, from any party, are allowed to campaign, with some expected limitations.” – NST