Malaysia is well on its way to achieving herd immunity, with 64.2 per cent of the adult population completely vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Monday 31 August.
Malaysia’s Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) said residents in Langkawi have achieved herd immunity, and the island is expected to be the first destination to be reopened to international travellers in a bid to help improve the socio-economic prospects of residents, but the date remains undecided.
The tourism ministry said the resort island was the first choice as it would be easier to contain the pandemic and monitor tourists on the island. Malaysia is keeping a close eye on Thailand’s efforts with the Phuket Sandbox and Samui Plus programmes, which introduced a limited number of vaccinated tourists to the two islands.
MOTAC had previously established 1 September to begin the restoration of tourism in Langkawi but postponed it due to an increase in COVID-19 cases. They will revisit it when the vaccination programme covers 80% of the population.
Joining the bandwagon in reopening the tourism sector is Terengganu, which officially opened on Wednesday 1 September but only for individuals who are fully vaccinated.
State Tourism, Culture and Digital Technology Committee chairman, Ariffin Deraman said the tourism sector’s opening included prominent island resorts such as Pulau Kapas in Marang, Pulau Redang in Kuala Nerus, Pulau Tenggol off Dungun, and Tasik Kenyir in Hulu Terengganu.
Individuals who have gotten two doses of the COVID-19 vaccination and who are residing in states under Phase 3 of the National Recovery Plan have been allowed to visit the island resorts since early this month.
Activities such as snorkelling and diving were prohibited then but as of September 1, it’s been permitted on the condition of adhering to the rules and standard operating procedures (SOP).
Ariffin also said in line with the opening of the tourism sector, accommodation services like lodges, homestays and hotels were also allowed to operate. However, destinations like zoos, museums, theme parks and art galleries are still not allowed to operate.
As tourism sectors are opening slowly, interstate and interdistrict travel aren’t allowed in Phase One and Phase Two of Movement Control under the National Recovery Plan (PPN). Interdistrict travel is allowed throughout Phase Three, but interstate travel won’t be allowed.