Malaysia is the next country to ease entry requirements under travel bubble agreements, removing the quarantine restriction for travelers from Cambodia and Thailand effective March 15, 2022.
Malaysia had one of the strictest Covid regimes worldwide, basically sealing the country from the inside and outside as well to the point where even Malaysians were restricted from traveling.
The country has rolled back its restrictions over the past six months and since then waived quarantine for Singapore arrivals provided travelers are PCR-tested and fully vaccinated.
Now Reuters reports that Malaysia is extending the same arrangement it has with Singapore to Cambodia and Thailand:
… Malaysia will allow vaccinated arrivals from Cambodia and Thailand to skip quarantine from March 15. Several daily flights fly from Kuala Lumpur to Phnom Penh, Bangkok and the island of Phuket.
Malaysia has so far waived quarantine for arrivals from Singapore, while Indonesia has since October granted entry to visitors from specified countries to Bali and has progressively reduced quarantine time to three days.
The moves follow neighbours the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand, which have waived quarantine in return for COVID testing before departure and upon arrival. …
What this means is basically yet another form of Vaccinated Travel Lane or Travel Bubble established on a bilateral basis, not addressing the issue of opening the country as a whole.
THE STAR also published an interview with the Prime Minister earlier this month:
Malaysia’s Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the related ministries and agencies of the two countries would hold discussions to reopen the border soon via Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTL) and Thailand’s Test & Go scheme.
“For a start, we can implement the Air VTL between Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok for travellers who are fully vaccinated. We will also consider adding other destinations in future,” the PM said. The VTL scheme will also extend to land borders via Bukit Kayu Hitam-Sadao and all international border checkpoints in the north of the peninsula and southern Thailand and the sea VTL between Langkawi and Satun.
The PM, during a visit to Kuching, Sarawak, noted 5,686 foreign tourists had made use of the Langkawi International Travel Bubble (LITB) to travel to Malaysia since it was introduced last November.
According to STAR online news, the PM said the bubble had generated over MYR28 million in revenue for the Langkawi economy.
Vaccinated Travel Lanes are up and running, linking Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. Brunei is in the pipeline, and discussions are on the way to establishing a Malaysia – Thailand VTL. The Brunei VTL will boost Sarawak tourism, especially to Miri, Limbang and Lawas all close to Brunei.
I’m not exactly sure that the arrival of fewer than 6,000 travelers within four months is something to celebrate and boast about. Langkawi used to be an extremely popular destination and tourism has been completely destroyed by these zealous covid entry policies Malaysia has put in place.
So what does this new regulation mean for travelers from Cambodia and Thailand?
Let’s have a look at the Singapore VTL model Malaysia has in place.
Malaysia Airlines describes the current arrangement with Singapore as follows:
- Travellers must be fully vaccinated
- Provide a negative RT-PCR test taken 2 days before departure, except for travellers below 2 years of age (calendar year)
- Undergo RT-PCR test upon arrival into Malaysia
- Effective 3 March 2022, passengers travelling into Malaysia are no longer required to undergo daily COVID-19 tests beginning on Day 2 of their arrival in Malaysia
- Passengers may refer here for detailed information
- Quarantine is NOT required for passengers travelling on VTL programme
- Eligible travellers will be persons of all nationalities in Malaysia or Singapore who would like to travel between the two countries for all purposes of travel.
- The VTL is only for an individual who has remained in Singapore or any other VTL country as recognised by the Government of Malaysia, in the last 14 consecutive days before departing for Malaysia.
- COVID-19 tests must be conducted at centres accredited by respective MOH. For pre-departure test in Singapore, travellers may book their appointment at one of the clinics in this list https://www.moh.gov.sg/licensing-and-regulation/regulations-guidelines-and-circulars/details/list-of-covid-19-swab-providers. As a general guide, travellers who present themselves at a clinic less than 48 hours before their travel will not receive their pre- departure test result on time.
- Travellers must have completed a full regimen of a COVID-19 vaccine recognised by World Health Organization (WHO). A full regimen of a COVID-19 vaccine means the traveller has received the required number of dose(s) to provide the full vaccine protection, inclusive of the time needed following the administration of the dose(s) to be protected against COVID-19. Currently, this means 14 days after the second dose of a two (2) dose vaccine or 28 days after a one (1) dose vaccine.
The good thing about these requirements is that it extends to all individuals in the country, not just local nationals and permanent residents. This means international tourists can make use of the VTL provided they’ve been staying in the country at least 14 days.
Furthermore, Malaysia recognizes a variety of vaccines including the one dose J&J and booster shots are not required at this point.
I really miss traveling to Malaysia. Before Covid I visited at least once a month but I haven’t been back since January 2020. I might think about going to Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi under this scheme even if it entails several hurdles that a normal tourist wouldn’t bother with.
A new vaccinated travel lane / travel bubble agreement will go into effect from March 15, allowing travelers from Cambodia and Thailand to travel to Malaysia without a quarantine requirement attached.
Travelers entering Malaysia under this agreement are still required to get tested multiple times, be fully vaccinated, and register with a mobile app.
I don’t see this increase conventional tourism but it opens a door for people who want/need to return to Malaysia for a variety of reasons, be it business or personal.