by ASILA JALIL / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
THREE more holiday destinations are on the list for reopening next month following the success of the pilot travel bubble project in Langkawi.
Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri said she had proposed to the Covid-19 Quartet Ministers Meeting yesterday for the reopening of Genting Highlands, Melaka and Tioman Island for tourists, which was approved and will be tabled to the Special Committee on Pandemic Management chaired by Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob today.
“This list is not exclusive. Maybe more destinations will be added tomorrow at the meeting with the PM.
“During the quartet meeting earlier, we were given two weeks for these destinations to prepare for reopening on Oct 1,” she said during a press conference at the Parliament building yesterday.
Nancy added that the steps taken for the travel bubble to Langkawi have proven to be successful and the Ministry of Health (MoH) wants similar measures to be made for other travel destinations upon reopening.
For the Langkawi travel bubble, Nancy said the island saw the arrival of 6,622 tourists from Sep 16 to 19 via flight, while arrivals via ferry stood at 3,483 individuals.
“We will finalise the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for these new destinations because it will be slightly complicated due to the size.
“Langkawi is a great example for us because we ensure swab tests are taken before departure via flight or ferry, which enables the authorities to prevent individuals who tested positive for Covid-19 from travelling,” she added.
Senior Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said if the Langkawi travel bubble continues to show positive development, it would be able to set the path for other travel bubble initiatives in the country.
Meanwhile, Hishammuddin said eateries and convenience stores in all areas will be allowed to operate from 6am until 12am.
This relaxation, however, does not apply at locations under the Enhanced Movement Control Order.
“This will be raised to the Special Committee tomorrow before the enforcement date is decided.
“It is important to note that the quartet ministers are focused on reopening sectors safely in stages,” he said.
On the reduction of SOPs from 181 to 10, Hishammudin said efforts on the matter are progressing well, which would enable the changes to be completed by early October as planned.
Meanwhile, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu had proposed the reopening of stadiums to the public to enable them to attend football matches or other sporting events.
Hishammuddin said this matter is still under discussion and will be tabled to the special meeting for a review.
“The youth and sports minister had also tabled the reopening of gymnasiums and bowling alleys, which was announced last week.
“The government has allowed for the resumption of indoor activities by taking into account the third pillar, which is the public’s wellbeing especially in terms of mental health, as well as understanding the needs of the gymnasium operators,” he said.
The MoH stressed that both gym operators and users must be responsible and adhere to the ventilation outlines that have been set to ensure safety.
On interstate travel, Hishammudin said the government will look into the matter as the country is moving towards an endemic phase, which includes decisions and guidelines on the issue.
“We are being very careful and we might enter the endemic phase by end-October. By then we would be able to decide on it.
“As we move towards the endemic phase, more relaxations will be given to the public. With that, I hope everyone will remain disciplined in practicing the SOPs.”