Langkawi’s tourism industry hopes that the COVID-19 Omicron variant’s emergence will not have any impact on the island’s international travel bubble programme.
The latest Omicron variant was recognised as a Variant of Concern by the World Health Organization on November 26, 2021, joining the ranks of the Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta variants.
For now, local industry players are keeping a close eye on changes to health guidelines for the travel bubble and working closely with travel agents to ensure that tourists are informed about any changes to the standard operating procedures (SOPs).
No travel bubble for these few
On Friday night (3 December), the Health Ministry said travellers from eight African countries will not be allowed to join the Langkawi travel bubble.
The eight African countries with a high risk of Omicron infection are Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Malawi. Earlier, it said the ban covered travellers from 26 countries that had reported Omicron cases.
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin added that Malaysians, specifically Langkawi residents, returning from countries that have reported or are at high risk of Omicron transmission are allowed to enter the country through the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) entrance.
They must spend 14 days under quarantine at one of the specified centres while foreign visitors who test positive for the COVID-19 Omicron variant will be isolated in private facilities and will be responsible for their own treatment costs.
Travel bubble guidelines
Travellers using the Langkawi international travel bubble must undertake an RT-PCR test at least 72 hours before leaving for Malaysia and upon arrival in the country, as well as a professionally administered RTK-Antigen COVID-19 test on their third and fifth days in the country.
Travellers who are tested on the day of their arrival in Langkawi will be allowed to stay at their hotel pending the results of their tests. They will receive their house surveillance orders (HSO) online using the MySejahtera app.
Those from allowed nations who seek to go to locations other than Langkawi will be required to undergo mandatory quarantine. The length of the quarantine depends on the travellers’ vaccination status: seven days for those who have been fully immunised, and 10 days for those who have not been fully vaccinated.
Those from high-risk nations who are quarantined at home or at their place of abode will be provided with a digital tracker.
The health ministry will update the international access points for these high-risk countries based on risk assessments undertaken on a regular basis.