Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Malaysia banning entry of long-term pass holders from three countries from Sept. 7. Domestic controls in place nationwide through Dec. 31.

Alert Begins 02 Sep 2020 06:52 AM UTC
Alert Expires 30 Sep 2020 11:59 PM UTC

  • Incident: COVID-19 restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Transport and business disruptions, entry bans, quarantine measures

Summary
Malaysian authorities continue to adjust restrictions to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as of Sept. 2. Starting Sept. 7, long-term pass holders from India, Indonesia, and the Philippines can no longer enter Malaysia. Authorities attributed the policy to increasing COVID-19 activity in the three countries.

Nationwide movement restrictions, termed the recovery movement control order (RMCO), are in effect through Dec. 31, despite the continued easing of some policies. Most businesses can operate, though public places where social distancing controls are hard to enforce like nightclubs remain closed. Essential businesses, including convenience stores, restaurants, and supermarkets, continue to operate. Sporting events can occur with protocols, such as banning spectators and overseas participants, in place. Interstate travel is permitted, though authorities may ban travel for residents of localities implementing more stringent restrictions. Foreigners can participate in activities at mosques since Sept. 1, though other selected religious facilities can involve only Malaysian citizens. Public transport can operate at full capacity with protocols in place; safeguards include requiring passengers to undergo temperature checks and wear masks. The use of masks also remains compulsory in crowded public places such as markets; officials are further urging citizens to wear masks in public to the extent possible. Authorities continue to discourage Malaysians from attending mass gatherings. People who violate controls may face fines of up to MYR 1,000 (USD 240).

The central or state government may order localized stricter measures, termed the targeted enhanced movement control order (TEMCO), in some areas due to higher local COVID-19 activity. The curbs vary in each locality. TEMCO is currently in place in parts of Aman Jaya, Kedah State, until further notice. The restrictions, which are affecting around 22,000 households in the area, include limiting operating hours of most businesses to 0800-2000 daily and allowing just one person from each household to obtain essential supplies. Other areas enacting TEMCO include Kuala Sanglang and Tanah Timbul villages in Perlis State, where protocols are in place through Sept. 4.

Several state governments are maintaining additional statewide business or social distancing restrictions on top of measures mandated by the central authorities. Officials in several states, including Johor, Perak, and Selangor, are reopening day and night markets in stages. Authorities in some states may also ban other businesses, such as hair salons and night markets. Additional curbs include limiting the operating hours of businesses, though exemptions are likely for essential services and medical facilities. Regional variations will likely continue, depending on local COVID-19 activity. The central or state authorities may implement or reintroduce restrictions in the coming days and weeks if COVID-19 cases increase in-country.

Travel Restrictions
Most foreigners remain banned from entering the country; exemptions are currently in place for resident diplomats, foreign spouses and dependents of Malaysian citizens, long-term pass holders, and expatriate employees working in essential industries and their dependents, among others. Arriving expatriate employees must present a letter for approval by authorities. Travelers must test for COVID-19 upon arrival. Those who test positive will undergo treatment at medical facilities, while those who test negative will undergo quarantine for 14 days at designated facilities. Travelers must also download the MySejahtera mobile app. Foreigners may transit at Malaysian airports as long as they do not pass through the immigration points. Malaysian nationals remain banned from traveling abroad. Emergency repatriation of Malaysian citizens stranded abroad has occurred on a case-by-case basis.

Cross-border travel with Singapore for essential business and work purposes restarted Aug. 17. Short-term travelers under the Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) must present approval letters by immigration authorities and a company or government agency in the destination country, visas if required according to nationality, and undergo COVID-19 swab testing within 72 hours before travel and upon arrival. Such travelers must adhere to a pre-approved itinerary for the first 14 days and contact tracing measures. Passengers with long-term work visas traveling under the Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA) can undertake multiple-entry visits through land border crossings at Woodlands or Tuas for 90-day stays once companies succeed in the application process. Entrants will serve quarantine at designated facilities for at least seven days, and undergo a self-paid or employer-sponsored COVID-19 swab test; such travelers are eligible for a short home leave after every minimum stay of 90 days in the destination country.

Background and Analysis
COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Follow all official health and safety measures. Ensure contingency plans account for additional disruptive controls or further extensions of current restrictions. Postpone travel if affected by travel restrictions. Confirm flight status before checking out of accommodation and departing for the airport. Follow all official instructions, particularly if traveling from affected locations. Allow additional time for immigration and health screenings at all ports of entry. Consider delaying travel if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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