Malaysia intends to partially reopen its borders to travellers from Australia and New Zealand without the need for visitors from those "green zone" countries to undergo 14-day quarantine on arrival, although they would still undergo Covid-19 tests before departure or upon entering the country.
Other countries on the "green list" include Japan and South Korea, and health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said Malaysia has begun discussions all countries.
Foreigners earning at least 10,000 ringgit ($3,240) a month, as well as those holding professional visit passes and resident talent passes with top management positions, would be permitted to enter Malaysia in this first stage reopening, Defense Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob told a press conference on Friday.
The country has also agreed on principle to let citizens of Singapore and Brunei enter Malaysia without immigration approval, coronavirus testing or home quarantine, although that agreement is subject to the other countries agreeing to extend the same courtesy to Malaysian citizens, with discussions between foreign ministries still ongoing, he said.
Medical tourists can enter by going through Health Ministry, registering with the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council and undergoing Covid-19 test; they must be taken to the hospital immediately and don’t require home quarantine.
Malaysians would be permitted to travel overseas for emergency, work and study purposes by showing proof of their travel purpose to immigration officers at airports, he said.
The reopening follows the country’s gradual phasing out of lockdown measures that were imposed since March to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Malaysia first allowed most economic sectors to resume operations on May 4 before letting nearly all activities to start on June 10 as the number of new infections eased in recent weeks.
Malaysia Airlines returns to Australian skies
The moves come as Malaysia Airlines resumes flights to Australia and New Zealand from July.
Sydney and Melbourne will see weekly flights across July, toggling up to twice-weekly from August to late October; Brisbane and Adelaide will have weekly flights from August, with Perth showing flights every 2-3 days from July onwards (click here to see a full list of dates and flight numbers).
"For customers with bookings purchased on or before 30 June 2020, your tickets will now be valid for travel by 30 June 2021," Malaysia Airlines says. "All new rebooking and requests for extension must be made by 31 December 2020."
"Additionally, customers will be able to make unlimited changes to travel dates with the change fee waived as well as flexibility to change to a new travel destination. A fare difference will apply if the fare for your new travel date is higher than the original ticket purchased. Fares will be reassessed at the time of your rebooking."
Malaysia Airlines is also revamping its long-range economy class fares as of June 22, with Economy Lite, Basic and Flex replacing the previous Basic, Smart and Flex categories.
Economy Flex includes fee-free rebooking and refunds, along with priority check-in, boarding and baggage (to 35kg), while Economy Lite is comes with only 7kg of carry-on baggage, with checked luggage now a cost-extra item.
Additional material by Bloomberg