Green light on domestic tourism, but international borders remain shut.
Malaysians, we’re almost there. The light at the end of the tunnel is flickering aglow and we are marching straight on to reach it.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin declared in a press conference held on 7th June 2020 that Malaysia is now set to transition into the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO).
The RMCO will take effect from the 10th of June 2020 until the 31st of August 2020.
Additionally, this will mark the initial stages of an ‘exit strategy’ from the current Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO).
There’s a lot to take note of, but really, all we want to know is whether we can start our cuti-cuti plans or not. So among all the clutter, here are the things you need to know about travelling under RMCO.
1) Interstate travel is now PERMITTED
Perhaps the main highlight of RMCO is that we are now permitted to travel across states. That’s right. No more road blocks, no more U-turning, no more documents. Johor can go Penang, no problem.
The only places you can’t go are those placed under the Enhanced Movement Control Order / Perintah Kawalan Pergerakan Diperketatkan (EMCO / PKPD). So just make sure you stay clear from them.
On the same note, going back to celebrate Aidiladha is allowed but is still subjected to SOPs set by Islamic religious authorities. The government however reiterates that senior citizens are most vulnerable to the virus, and encourages those returning home to practise good hygiene.
2) Certain industries in domestic tourism can RE-OPEN
Not all areas have been given the green light yet, but it’s a big step towards recovery for the tourism sector.
Restrictions will ease on many areas, including museums, indoor busking activities, entertainment and creative outlets, and recreational fishing ponds. You’ll also see the return of your favourite mak cik kiahs as bazaars, morning and night markets, and food trucks have all been permitted.
Parents with young children will be delighted to learn that our beloved National Zoo, along with other zoos in the country have also been permitted to resume business.
Despite the easing of such restrictions, all businesses must adhere to SOPs and visitors should maintain the ‘new normal’ of social distancing, wearing face masks, and sanitizing.
3) Attractions with large gathering are still PROHIBITED
I’m afraid you’ll have to postpone your plans to Sunway Lagoon or Berjaya Time Square.
As the virus hasn’t been fully eradicated, any activity that draws large crowds are still prohibited.
For tourism, this means popular tourist attractions such as
theme parks, night clubs, pubs, karaoke centres and reflexology centres will remain shut. Likewise, your rumah terbuka and kenduris is also off limits as it still poses a substantial risk.
Great news! Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said recently that water-based theme parks are allowed to open from 1st July onwards. All theme parks must follow guidelines pertaining pool management and maintenance released by the National Security Council and Tourism, Arts, and Culture Ministry websites.
All watersport activities – whether in public or private residences – remain disallowed.
4) Tourist accommodations can open, but MUST abide by SOPs
Hotels and resorts can finally begin their recovery from the damaging sales slump incurred during the MCO.
The Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) has released standardised guidelines and SOPs following the pandemic, however this was published on the 1st of May 2020. We can expect some fine-tuning in days to come.
Regardless, MAH chief executive officer Yap Lip Seng is optimistic about the rebound and is expecting steady demand in 2021. Yap also expressed confidence that hotel bookings are expected to surge in the short-term in mainland Kedah, Perak, Johor, Pahang and Kelantan. Hotels in Langkawi and Negeri Sembilan can expect the same albeit at later periods in the year.
Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Terengganu and Sarawak have already recorded bookings in the third and fourth quarter of 2020.
5) International travel still PROHIBITED
No need for luggage bags just yet as our borders continue to remain closed.
Only returning Malaysians from abroad are allowed re-entry, but will need to go through a mandatory 14-day quarantine at home. If passengers are tested positive for COVID-19 at the airport, they will be sent for immediate treatment.
All returning Malaysians NEED to download the MySejahtera application for monitoring and are required to strap on quarantine bracelets for identification.
Remember, these are for returning Malaysians and expatriates only. Tourist are still barred from entering country, and Malaysians are still not able to travel overseas for vacations.
What does this mean?
In short, cuti cuti Malaysia is highly encouraged while international travel is still on hold.
The easing of certain measures is a great indicator of how well our country is handling the COVID-19, and a testament to our frontliners who has braved the disease and kept us safe.
Nevertheless, traces of the virus still lingers and we MUST continue to take necessary precautions. Should the number of cases spike again, we’d most certainly find ourselves back at square one under MCO with detrimental effects on our lives and economy.
So while we are able to travel domestically again, it comes with a degree of responsibility that we all have to bear.