Malaysia to re-open for tourists after two-year Covid closure

Malaysia will reopen to all vaccinated tourists on April 1, officials announced Tuesday, joining a growing number of countries that have lifted restrictions in an effort to live with Covid.

The tourism-dependent Southeast Asian country, which is known for its white-sand beaches and lush rainforests, closed its borders in March 2020, but will now only require a negative Covid test to gain entry.

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“The government has decided to open its borders on April 1, 2022,” Prime Minister Ismail Sabri said in media briefing.

“We believe this decision will boost our economy and help revive our ailing tourism sector.”

Despite Malaysia reporting more than 25,000 infections every day in recent weeks, the reopening comes despite the fact that the majority of cases have been minor.

Its move is similar to those of neighboring countries such as Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines, which are gradually reducing entry regulations in order to entice tourists back.

Malaysia’s economy shrank by 5.6 percent in 2020 as a result of Covid, but grew by 3.1 percent last year.

One of Southeast Asia’s major budget airlines, Malaysia-based AirAsia, termed the action “timely” and said it “would offer a tremendous boost” for tourism and aviation recovery.

Bo Lingam, the group’s chief executive, told AFP that the airline intended to carry a million people in the first week.

Vaccinated travelers will not be subjected to quarantine, but they must provide a negative PCR test two days prior to arrival and an antigen test within 24 hours of entry.

Previously, quarantine-free access was solely available to Singaporeans.

To date, Malaysia has documented over 3.6 million Covid cases, with over 33,000 deaths.

Around 80% of the country’s 32 million people have received all of their vaccinations.

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