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Sabah aims to reopen by Sept 1
Published on: Monday, July 06, 2020
By: Anthea Peter
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Liew (left) and Nordin (middle) at the night market.
Kota Kinabalu: The Sabah Government aims to reopen its doors to international tourists by Sept 1, said Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew. 

She said this would be done by observing the Covid-19 situation and also advice from the Health Ministry, while conforming to the prescribed standard operating procedures (SOPs).

“We are looking forward to the reopening of the international sector (tourists), but we will be very selective,” she told reporters after a visit to the Api Api Might Market at Lintasan Deasoka, here, Saturday. Also present were Mayor Datuk Nordin Siman and Political Secretary Dr Jamili Nais.

Liew, who also State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, said only travellers from selected countries with green zone and Covid-19-free status would be allowed to enter.

She said a meeting would be held with China’s Consul-General in Kota Kinabalu, Liang Caide, this week to discuss restarting tourism between Sabah and China.

“We hope with his assistance, we can speed up the process of getting China tourists to visit the State,” she said.

She added that the State Government will fully observe the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) set by the Malaysian Health Ministry.

Liew also said she had two meetings with AirAsia boss Tony Fernandez regarding the reopening.

She said Fernandez informed her that all the fight sectors serviced by AirAsia recorded a 90 per cent passenger occupancy, despite all aircraft being half full due to the SOP.

Tourism players have asked Liew to reopen the sector by July, but she insisted that it should be in September because she fears there might be a spike in Covid19 cases between July and September.

“Many other neighbouring countries like Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Singapore are opening by July or August. 

“But I want to play safe, I want to open in September. We welcome them but we also prioritise the safety of Sabahans,” she said.

On the Api Api Night Market, Liew allayed fears over widespread concerns of Covid-19 at public premises.

She encouraged locals to spend money and support local businesses which have been out for the past three months due to the Movement Control Order (MCO). 

“We want to kick-start the economy. We are happy to give them (hawkers) business and slowly it (night market) will also attract tourists,” she said. 

Christina said she was aware of how the pandemic had caused a rise in unemployment and assured that the economy will pick up again. 

“Don’t give up hope. The economy is picking up again. The moment Covid-19 is under control, relatively, people can go out again,” she said.


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