Theme parks get the go-ahead to restart operations

by ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN/ pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

THE government has approved the reopening of all theme parks and amusement attractions nationwide, albeit with reduced number of visitors and enhanced health measures in place.

The reopening will affect some 10,000 employees at 54 theme parks in Malaysia, including water parks and indoor parks, where social distancing measures will be applied at ticketing counters, restaurants, merchandise shops and other facilities.

Theme park operators must adhere to strict pool maintenance codes issued by local authorities, Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said yesterday.

Visitors will also be required to register their details on the government’s MySejahtera app and use hand sanitisers frequently.

The government on March 18 imposed various restrictive measures including barring of interstate travel and entry for foreign tourists to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Due to this, local theme parks were among the hardest hit, as most of them had made different preparations to bring in throngs of visitors under the Visit Malaysia 2020 campaign.

The campaign, which targeted 30 million visitors and RM100 billion in tourist receipts, has since been cancelled in light of the outbreak.

The Malaysian Association of Amusement Theme Park and Family Attractions earlier expressed hopes that theme parks in Malaysia will be revitalised upon reopening given the high public demand.

Its long-time president Tan Sri Richard Koh cited the reopening of Shanghai’s Disneyland Theme Park as an example, saying it succeeded in garnering up to 5,000 visitors daily.

He said local attractions such as Penang Hill have also successfully attracted many visitors since its reopening.

Meanwhile, Ismail Sabri announced that temperature checks at malls and hotels would only be required at the entrance of the premises. However, individual stores must still record basic details of their customers to enable contact tracing.

“This will allow us to trace the movement of relevant individuals in case an infection occurs, so this (record keeping) will continue to be mandatory,” Ismail Sabri said.

The minister also announced the exemptions on charges for Covid-19 tests imposed on returning locals and foreigners arriving from abroad.

He said the waiver is applicable to people with disabilities, government officers on official trips and students returning for the first time.

Ismail Sabri said people who fall under the three categories could seek refunds if they had been charged prior to the announcement.

The Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Fee for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) Detection Test) Regulations 2020, which came into effect yesterday, have made it compulsory for those returning from overseas to pay a range of RM30 to RM150 to be tested for Covid-19.

Non-citizens will be charged more depending on the test.

Malaysians will be charged a fee of RM30 for an antibody rapid test kit, RM60 for an antigen rapid test kit, and RM150 for a polymerase chain reaction test kit.

For foreigners, the fees are RM60 for an antibody rapid test kit, RM120 (antigen rapid test kit), and RM250 (polymerase chain reaction test kit).