The tightened entry restrictions will take effect on Monday, September 7.
Citing the spike of Covid-19 infections in India, Indonesia, and the Philippines, the Malaysian government will soon be banning long-term pass holders from all three countries. Defense Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob revealed this new rule at a televised press conference on the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) yesterday. He said permanent residents, expatriates, international students, and spouses and children of Malaysian citizens would all be affected.
“In the past, I had announced some concessions [for those groups], but looking at the sudden increase in cases, we decided to impose entry restrictions,” Ismail told reporters at the time. He said the decision was taken at a meeting convened by a special Cabinet committee a few hours earlier, and added that the ban would come into force next Monday to help reduce the risk of imported cases.
Ismail also said the government was reviewing the status long-term pass holders from other parts of the world, following advice from the Ministry of Health. Authorities are concerned about a potential surge of Covid-19 cases with the onset of winter in the Northern Hemisphere later this year. “We are looking into this matter and if there is a sudden increase then maybe we will issue the same order against those countries,” he said at the press briefing.
India has recorded the third-highest number of Covid-19 infections worldwide, with nearly 3.7 million people testing positive since the start of the pandemic, while the Philippines has logged the most cases in Southeast Asia with more than 224,000 recorded infections. Not far behind, Indonesia has confirmed 177,000 cases so far, but the true number is likely to be much higher given the low testing rates compared to the Philippines and India. The daily count of new cases in Jakarta, the capital and worst-hit province, topped 1,000 twice over the past five days.
Putrajaya recently extended its nationwide coronavirus restrictions until the end of this year, due to the emergence of new Covid-19 clusters in several states. Malaysia’s current ban on foreign tourists is also being upheld. Under the RMCO, which has been in place since June, pubs, nightclubs, and entertainment venues are not allowed to operate. Last month, the government introduced a mandatory mask requirement for all passengers on public transport and those in crowded public places.