Malaysia considers fully reopening border on March 1 as Thailand eyes travel bubble

An AirAsia airplane in Kuala Lumpur Airport. File photo.

Malaysia’s COVID-19 task force has said it recommends the country fully reopens its borders on March 1.

Under the reopening plans, people would be able to visit Malaysia without undergoing mandatory quarantine. However, they would need to undergo COVID-19 screening before departure and upon arrival in Malaysia.

The reopening is part of plans to kick start its economic post pandemic recovery.

“This means tourists can visit, investors can enter… It means AirAsia can fly again, as an example,” said Muhyiddin Yassin, chair of Malaysia’s National Recovery Council (NRC).

To date, almost 98 percent of the adult population in Thailand have received two COVID-19 vaccine doses, while 50 percent have received a third booster jab.

The news comes as Thai government spokesperson Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said Thailand plans to hold talks with Malaysia and China later this month about opening travel bubbles as part of possible bilateral travel deals.

Under the plans, tourists would not need to undergo quarantine, would be granted special visas and would have arrangements made with regards to accommodation, such as being required to only stay in SHA+ approved hotels.

Chinese and Malaysian tourists accounted for the two largest groups of visitors to Thailand before the pandemic.

Enabling tourists from those countries to visit Thailand would be a significant boost to Thailand’s beleaguered tourism industry.

Malaysia currently has a travel bubble in place with Singapore.