Malaysia to impose travel restrictions

Malaysia’s policy to further restrict foreign travellers begins today as the country attempts to curb the spread of COVID-19. At

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Photo: REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

Malaysia’s policy to further restrict foreign travellers begins today as the country attempts to curb the spread of COVID-19.

At the start of September, Kuala Lumpur barred citizens from India, Indonesia and the Philippines from entering the country. On Thursday, the restriction was amended to include countries with more than 150,000 documented cases, including the US, UK, France and Russia. Affected travellers include short-term visitors, permanent residents, students, foreign workers and long-term residents under the My Second Home program, which allows individuals from specific countries to live and work in the country.

The full economic impact of Kuala Lumpur’s latest decision is still unknown, although the ban is certain to affect sectors that rely heavily on foreign labour. The palm industry, for example, relies heavily upon foreign workers when production reaches its peak between September and November; previous travel restrictions had already left the industry without 10% of its regular workforce. Additionally, the tourism sector will likely suffer as this latest ban exacerbates existing immobility, which has hurt an industry on which an estimated 3.5 million Malaysians rely.

In the short-term, Malaysia is unlikely to abrogate the ban. The list of prohibited countries will likely continue to be adjusted and hard-hit industries will continue to contract until the virus is controlled internationally or Kuala Lumpur develops adequate measures to mitigate the threat posed by international visitors.

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