KUALA LUMPUR: The government will not open the country’s borders arbitrarily to foreign travellers, as permission for entry will depend on the Covid-19 situation in their countries of origin, said Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
Right now, he said, only those who were fully vaccinated were allowed to enter the country, but borders are still closed for tourists.
“If we were to open the country’s borders to foreign travellers, every circumstance (related to Covid-19) in their countries of origin will be taken into consideration.”
Ismail said six factors would be considered before foreign travellers are granted entry into 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, the cumulative mortality rate, recovery index, and the cumulative total of the cases in their respective countries.
“In every decision, we will seek the advice and recommendations of the health ministry based on their risk assessment. We will not arbitrarily open our borders,” he said during question time in the Dewan Negara today.
The prime minister was replying to Senator Razali Idris on whether the government had a backup crisis management plan if the number of Covid-19 cases spiked again following the spread of new variants if the borders were to open.
“If the numbers are spiking in their countries, we will probably change our policy from allowing (entry) to refusing entry. We are flexible in this regard,” he said.
However, he said the permission for entry would be subject to SOPs and other terms and conditions, including undergoing mandatory quarantine at designated locations to curb the spread of the virus.
He said the government was constantly improving its SOPs, and from Aug 12, began allowing fully vaccinated citizens 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 made cautiously, taking into account the global developments with priority to revive the economy,” he said.
Meanwhile, replying to Senator Muhammad Zahid Md Arip on the decision by certain countries to allow entry only to recipients of particular vaccines, Ismail said the government will try to negotiate with those countries to allow Malaysians to enter.
“We cannot control their policies, it’s their right. What’s important is to negotiate to enable Malaysians who received vaccines other than those specified, to be granted entry,” he said.-FMT