The COVID-19 pandemic has left many people scratching their heads, and there are still no clear solutions to many of questions the pandemic brought to ask. This has led many nations to take treating COVID-19 as an endemic disease, like a seasonal flu, to escape the crisis and avoid more restrictions.
With that regard, as of 1 April 2022, Malaysia will enter a new phase known as the ‘Endemic Transition Phase’, according to Prime Minister Ismail Sabri. This stage is designed to be a transitional one before the country enters the endemic stage, which is contingent on the announcement from the World Health Organization (WHO).
That said, most of the major restrictions placed by the government as part of its COVID-19 measures will be lifted on that date — including reopening the country’s international borders. Malaysia’s international borders have been closed since 18 March 2020, which had a grave impact on the tourism sector.
The successful National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK) in Malaysia allowed for the completion of the transition phase. A total of 98.7% of adults in the country have been fully immunised as of Monday (7 March), while 64% have received booster shots.
The new COVID-19 rules and SOPs for the endemic phase:
- Mandatory usage of face masks in public places to remain.
- Mandatory MySejahtera check-in with the exception of open areas (such as parks) that are not crowded or have mass gatherings.
- Mandatory MYSJTrace for crowded indoor areas.
- Limits on operating hours for business premises will be lifted. Businesses that were once open for 24 hours, such as restaurants and convenience stores, can do so again.
- Mosque prayers and religious worship in other non-Muslim religious venues can be carried out without physical distancing. SOPs subject to the respective states’ Islamic religious authorities, while non-Muslim houses of worship will have to take direction from the National Unity Ministry’s Unit for Other Religions.
- Country borders will finally reopen.
- No quarantine is required upon arrival for fully vaccinated foreign visitors and Malaysian nationals.
- Anyone entering the country must undergo an RT-PCR test two days before departure and a professional rapid test (RTK) 24 hours upon arrival.
- The MyTravelPass will be scrapped, but travellers to the country will still be required to download and use the MySejahtera app upon arrival.
- Limits on employee capacity, which depended on their vaccine coverage, will be lifted.
- Interstate travel will be allowed for all individuals regardless of their vaccination status.
- Large gatherings, such as conferences and wedding receptions, will no longer be limited to 50% capacity, although physical distancing is still important and encouraged.
Earlier this month, Malaysia said that it will begin adopting VTL schemes with Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam in mid-March. These VTLs are valid until 1 April.
Meanwhile, Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri said Monday that the Tourism and Culture Ministry is ready to welcome foreign tourists back into Malaysia when the borders reopen. This includes the land border between Malaysia and Singapore. Both the Johor Causeway and Second Link at Gelang Patah will reopen simultaneously, she said, facilitating travel by Singaporeans to Malaysia.