In similar news, Sabah and Melaka have opened up for tourism within the states. This will see economic and sports activities allowed until 10pm in Sabah, while tourist and culture activities like zoos and museums in Melaka can operate at 50% capacity.
Malaysia will open its borders to international travellers once the nation fully moves into endemic phase for COVID-19, Minister for Home Affairs, Hamzah Zainudin, said on Thursday (30 September 2021). According to Bernama's report, this was shared during his attendance at the handover ceremony of the Malaysian Border Control Agency (Agensi Kawalan Sempadan Malaysia, or AKSEM) to the Royal Malaysia Police (Polis Diraja Malaysia, or PDRM).
Minister Hamzah explained that Malaysia is currently still in the pandemic phase, and its transition to an endemic phase would be determined by the Ministry of Health (MOH), as well as subject to standard operating procedures (SOPs).
"Once we are ready, the Ministry of Health will announce it. Actually, the Immigration Department is ready, the General Operations Force is also ready (and) we too are ready to reopen our borders,” he was cited as saying.
In the same vein, effective today, 1 October 2021 (Friday), 18 out of 27 districts in Sabah will open for travel within zones, said State Local Government and Housing Minister Masidi Manjun. Based on Malaymail's report, the nine districts that are not involved in this exercise are: Sandakan, Tawau, Kinabatangan, Telupid, Tongod, Semporna, Papar, Nabawan, and Kalabakan. Minister Masidi explained that this is because those districts have failed in reaching its vaccination targets.
The opening will see Sabah, for one, extending operating hours for all economic and sports activities until 10pm; for another, extending business hours for all eateries, supermarkets, convenience stores, and petrol stations.
As a whole, the districts that are open for travel within zones are:
- Zone 1: Kota Kinabalu, Penampang, Putatan, Tuaran, Ranau, and Kota Belud;
- Zone 2: Beaufort, Sipitang, and Kuala Penyu;
- Zone 3: Kudat, Kota Marudu, Pitas, and Beluran;
- Zone 4: Lahad Datu and Kunak, and
- Zone 5: Keningau, Tambunan, and Tenom.
Joining Sabah in reopening is Melaka as the state has transitioned to Phase Three of Malaysia's National Recovery Plan (NRP). Per Bernama's report, State Tourism, Heritage and Culture Committee Chairman Muhammad Jailani Khamis, on 30 September 2021 (Thursday), said the state will now allow local tourist and cultural activities.
Chairman Jailani said: "Only 50% of tourists are allowed to be in a premise, and tourists must put on their face masks, and practise social distancing and good hygiene." He further explained that the opening of the tourism sector also involves tourism products that are listed as positive and negative. For the latter, it would be places such as entertainment clubs and night clubs. The former, meanwhile, would include zoos, farms, aquariums, snorkelling, scuba diving, fishing, edu-tainment centres, recreation parks, and extreme sports and natural parks.
"Art, culture, and heritage premises such as museums, libraries, Hang Tuah Village, art galleries, cultural heritage art centres and villages, as well as cultural performance stages, theme parks, and family entertainment centres are also allowed to operate," the Chairman added.
Per Bernama's report, as this is limited to local travellers, Chairman Jailani shared that the committee would monitor the progress of the sectors to ascertain if there is an increase in COVID-19 cases within two weeks before deciding to open the sector to tourists outside of Melaka.
Further, he hoped that the specific SOP for the Melaka tourism sector from the National Security Council (Majlis Keselamatan Negara, or MKN) would be announced soon as "tourism or heritage spots in Melaka are located in a relatively narrow and concentrated areas."
Image / 123RF