updates

We've rounded up relevant updates from the weekend: what to do in case travellers bound for Langkawi test COVID-positive, to the opening up of Sabah (with limits of 100 visitors to parks per day), and more.

Between 17 September (Friday) to 20 September (Monday), the Malaysian government and its respective ministries released a series of COVID-19 rules and regulations around recreational, social, and economic activities. Below are the roundups, in case you've missed it.

COVID-19 positive travellers to Langkawi can reschedule their flights and accommodation

Travellers who test positive for COVID-19 prior to their departure to Langkawi are allowed to reschedule their flight tickets and accommodation reservations to another date, Malaysia's Minister for Tourism, Arts, and Culture, Nancy Shukri, said on 18 September 2021 (Saturday).

According to Bernama's report, Minister Nancy said: "We have discussed the matter with airline companies and hotels so that if tourists tested positive (for COVID-19), their flight tickets and accommodation packages can be rescheduled to another date. As such, tourists will not suffer any losses."

This announcement came after Health Director-General Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah shared that five individuals tested positive for COVID-19 after undergoing screenings prior to their departure to Langkawi.

Further, Minister Nancy added the ministry would monitor tourism activities in Langkawi for two weeks before deciding to open more tourist destinations.

“We have visited other resort islands such as Tioman Island, Pangkor Island, and Labuan which have achieved 80% to 100% vaccination rates. We will seek National Security Council's (Majlis Keselamatan Negara/MKN) approval to reopen these destinations after we evaluate the situation in Langkawi."


All parks in Sabah are open to fully-vaccinated individuals for visiting

On 20 September 2020 (Monday), Minister for Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment, Jafry Ariffin, shared that all Sabah Parks offices and stations have, in fact, been in operation since 16 September 2020. Thus, all nine areas in Sabah parks and its activities—from marine to terrestrial parks like Mount Kinabalu—are open for visiting.

However, he noted that these parks are limited to:

  • Fully vaccinated visitors;
  • Domestic tourism from the same district only, and
  • Visitors aged 12 years and under 70 years.

"The number of visitors to these destinations is also limited to only 100 people per day for each destination visited," Minister Jafry added. In addition to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) of Phase Two of the National Recovery Plan (NRP).

Further, the Minister reminded that the Turtle Islands Park in Sandakan will only operate on 20 September 2021; and Bohey Dulang Island, which is located in the Tun Sakaran Marine Park in Semporna district, and Ulu Kimanis Sub Station will be informed later when it will be open to visitors.


Recreational activities that are allowed for fully-vaccinated individuals in Sabah

Fully-vaccinated individuals in Sabah are allowed to engage in more recreational activities starting 20 September 2021 (Monday), State Local Government and Housing Minister Masidi Manjun shared. According to Bernama's report, they are:

  1. Physical contact sports and recreational activities that involve in the operation of open and indoor facilities;
  2. Individual fitness activities, such as aerobics and zumba, that involve facilities with 50% capacity or not more than 30 people;
  3. Hiking activities with 50% capacity or not more than 30 people;
  4. Sessions in maritime and flight training centres with 50% capacity or not more than 30 people;
  5. Fishing ponds with 50% capacity or not more than 30 people, from 6 am to 6 pm;
  6. Domestic cruise ship activities in Sabah waters with a 50% capacity;
  7. Face-to-face meetings with 50% capacity, and
  8. Operation of private offices according to the number of employees who have been vaccinated.

However, Minister Masidi shared, all nightclub and pub activities are still not allowed. Apart from that, the Minister added that the operation of factories and liquor shops would also be allowed, and all institutions of higher learning under the supervision of the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) would be opened in stages.


More public transport is expected to operate in October 2021, if domestic tourism continues

Judging from the Langkawi travel bubble project, Minister for Transport Wee Ka Siong said that more public transport is expected to operate because the tourism and transport sectors, especially aviation, was bustling when it opened on 16 September 2021 (Thursday).

Per Bernama's report, Minister Wee said: "On Thursday, a total of 800 travellers started their journey to Langkawi from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), while 720 travellers departed from KLIA2." In total of 1,520 passengers departed on eight flights, which involved four Malaysia Airlines flights, one Malindo Air flight, and three AirAsia flights.


Gyms in Phase Two states are allowed to operate with 50% capacity

Effective immediately, gyms in Phase Two of National Recovery Plan (NRP) are allowed to operate with 50% capacity, Minister for Youth and Sports Ahmad Faizal Azumu said on 17 September 2021 (Friday). He urged the public to follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place, especially the ventilation guidelines.

According to Malay Mail's report, the main guidelines are:

  • Gyms must operate with no more than 60% of staff, and only for those who are fully-vaccinated.
  • Fully-vaccinated individuals must accompany those aged 17 and below, and adhere to the SOPs in place.

"Gyms are now open for business. Please follow the SOPs and especially the ventilation guidelines. Enjoy healthy living!", Minister Faizal said on Twitter with an attachment of the full SOPs.

On Facebook, the Minister also shared the ventilation guidelines operators can take note of.


Dining-ins are allowed in Southern zone of Sarawak from 20 September 2021

Fully-vaccinated individuals in Southern zone of Sarawak are allowed to dine in, starting 20 September 2021 (Monday), Malaysia's State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) announced on 17 September 2021 (Friday). The Southern zone comprises Kuching, Bau, Lundu, Samarahan, Asajaya, Simunjan, Serian, and Tebedu.

This, however, works under the conditions of:

  • Operators, workers, and customers must be fully-vaccinated;
  • Owners must ensure proper ventilation and airflow at the premises, and
  • Owners can only operate between 5am to 10pm.

Further, SDMC noted that individuals and groups are not allowed to be in public areas after 12am "without valid reasons."


Kelantan aims to reach Phase Three of NRP by October 2021

By the end of September, or early October, Kelantan should progress to Phase Three of the National Recovery Plan (NRP), said State Health Department (Jabatan Kesihatan Negeri Kelantan, or JKNK) director Dr Zaini Hussin on 19 September 2021 (Sunday).

Per Bernama's report, Director Zaini said this is expected once more people are fully-vaccinated. He, however, noted that "several criteria would be taken into account" before moving to Phase Three, including vaccination coverage and the trend of the daily Covid-19 cases in the state. As of now, Director Zaini hopes that the state can reach the fully-vaccintaed rate of 80% from its current 58.1%.


Image / 123RF

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