29 Nov 2021, 10:13

Singapore, Malaysia ease Covid travel curbs

  SINGAPORE, Nov 29, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - Singapore and Malaysia eased
coronavirus travel restrictions on one of the world's busiest land borders
Monday after nearly two years, allowing some vaccinated people to cross
without quarantine.

  Before the pandemic, about 300,000 people used to commute across the border
from Malaysia every day to the neighbouring city-state, to work in areas
ranging from public transport to electronics manufacturing.

  But most travel was halted in March last year, leaving many who previously
commuted, and other Malaysians in Singapore, effectively stuck there as they
needed to continue working.

  From Monday, vaccinated Singaporean and Malaysian citizens, those holding
permanent residency status and work permits can cross the one-kilometre (0.6-
mile) causeway separating the countries without having to quarantine.

  "I feel happy to be able to go back and meet my family finally after two
years," Eunice Teoh, a Malaysian getting the first bus from Singapore under
the scheme, told AFP.

  "I do feel a bit nervous because this is the first batch, and I'm not
really sure what will happen," added the 28-year-old, who works in finance
and was heading to the Malaysian state of Pahang.

  Initially, around 3,000 people a day will be able to cross using special
bus services, and will have to take virus tests.

  Officials say the initial stage is aimed at workers who have been unable to
see families for some time, and they plan to expand it later to other groups.

  Restrictions were also eased Monday on air travel, with vaccinated people
allowed to fly between the countries' main airports without quarantining.

  Prior to the easing of curbs, citizens and some other groups were still
allowed to travel between the neighbours, but they had to quarantine on

  Both countries have high vaccination rates. Singapore's outbreak has been
mild by global standards, although Malaysia faced a serious wave in recent
months driven by the Delta variant.

  Malaysians have long been a key part of the workforce of wealthier
Singapore, which has a population of just 5.5 million, where they typically
earn higher salaries than back home.

  The neighbours were part of the same country for two years from 1963 but it
was a stormy union, and Singapore was eventually kicked out.


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