No need for swab tests
Published on: Tuesday, June 16, 2020
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Kota Kinabalu: The State Government has decided to allow all Malaysians and holders of passes issued by the State Immigration Department to enter Sabah whether from peninsula, Sarawak and Labuan without having to undergo Covid-19 swab tests effective Monday. 

 “All they need to do is fill the Health Declaration Form and comply with the Sabah Health Department’s standard operating procedure,” said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal in a statement, Monday. 

 He said the permission is also subject to the regulations of the State Immigration Department and the relevant authorities. 

 The directive came following the State Government’s decision to implement the Restoration Movement Control Order (RMCO) under the Regulations for the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Measures within the local area of infection)(No.7) 2020 effective June 10 with several improved guidelines and standard operating procedures in accordance with the State. 

At the same time, the State Health Department will carry out risk monitoring and assessment for all who enter the State. 

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) welcomed the State Government’s decision.

 “While waiting for the gradual easing of border, tourism players can now actively tap into the domestic market,” said Matta President, Datuk Tan Kok Liang. 

 He said some 2.5 million domestic travellers from peninsula and Sarawak visit Sabah annually. 

 “Against a backdrop of global recession and weak consumer demand a good segment to tap is the workforce of 1.2 million in the civil service. Sabah products like hiking, adventure, rural tourism and nature based are ideal for travel seekers under the new norm travel trends. 

 “The industry players have in fact the last month getting prepared with health and safety protocols to boost traveller demand that it is safe to travel. However, we hope air tickets will remain competitive to spur domestic travel,” he told the Daily Express. 

 He said the State’s previous ruling of 14 days quarantine and subsequently Covid-19 test three days before arrival had made it somewhat cumbersome to encourage domestic tourism in Sabah .

 “As of today, the local tourism industry and the whole value chain has been decimated by the lockdown and Movement Control Order. Today, we shall reset the industry for recovery which expects to return to normalcy in the 2nd quarter of 2021,” he said.

 He said Sabah is much dependent on foreign tourists especially from China and South Korea and that pushing forward domestic tourism will provide much relief. 

 “The tourism industry is also transforming more into digitalization and contactless procedures moving forward,” he said. 

 Tan had earlier met up with Sabah Deputy Chief Minister cum Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Datuk Christina Liew to thank her and the Sabah Chief Minister for lifting the restriction. 

 “It is a relief but local tourism players need lots to catch up to be in par with peninsula who have a head start post Covid-19,” said Tan. 

 He said air connectivity is crucial to revive the tourism industry in Sabah and calls for reasonable air fares as there are earlier comments that air fares between the peninsular and Sabah has increased more than 30 per cent.

 “We hope the air fares can return to pre-Covid19 level,” he said. 



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