Malaysia will extend its existing travel restrictions until the end of the year, according to a statement by the country’s Prime Minister, made on national television on 30th August. The measures, known as RMCO (Recovery Movement Control Order) were first established on 10th June and were due to expire on 31st August. They will now extend to 31st December 2020.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin delivered the news in a live telecast over the weekend, in which he confirmed that Malaysia has successfully managed to curb and contain the spread of Covid-19, since the pandemic first appeared earlier this year. Although the virus appears to be firmly under control in Malaysia, the increasing number of global cases has led the Malaysian administration to maintain its ban on international arrivals until the end of the year.
Although the MCO had been extended, Muhyiddin said he was confident “that our lives will not be affected because daily activities can be carried out as usual with the cultivation of new norms and compliance with established SOPs.” The Prime Minister commended his countrymen for their response to the virus thus far, while also reiterating the need for diligence in personal safety and general conduct in relation to Covid-19 in the months ahead.
“The important thing is we must continue to get used to wearing face masks, washing our hands, maintaining personal hygiene and avoiding crowded places,” said the PM. “I believe we are all already doing this, which is why we have successfully prevented the spread of Covid-19 in our communities,” he added.
Under the existing – now extended – RMCO, virtually all business sectors are allowed to operate, with a few exceptions such as nightclubs and entertainment centres, where Covid-19 safety measures are more difficult to enforce. The control order is a watered-down version of Malaysia’s original safety measures (MCO), implemented on 18th March, which were designed to put the country in lockdown as a first defence against the arrival of the virus. In July, these controls were walked back to allow the reopening of schools, sporting facilities and religious services. Domestic travel is now permitted and the vast majority of businesses are operational, with safety protocols in place.
Although Malaysia will remain under RMCO until the end of the year, the move appears to be a precaution against the prevailing spread of Covid-19 in source markets, rather than an indication of difficulties in Malaysia itself. This bodes well for the country’s inbound tourism recovery; with its own house in order, Malaysia has time to further strengthen its safeguards and revive destinations through domestic tourism, while waiting – and hoping – for the global situation to stabilise.