Besides making Instagrammers sad about the fact that they can’t post pictures of airline tickets, border closures are bad for business.
This is why the Singapore government recently decided to distribute $100 worth of tourism vouchers to citizens in a bid to revive its dying tourism industry.
While we’ve opened up to a few countries, it’s largely for official and business travellers who will be too busy with work to ride roller coasters at Universal Studios.
One of the few countries we’ve partially opened our borders to is Malaysia, another country that has been badly affected by border restrictions.
Johor recently urged the Malaysian government to fully reopen its border with Singapore, but it looks like that may not happen so soon.
M’sian PM Say that They Won’t Rush to Open the Borders So You Can Say Goodbye to Any JB Trips in the Near Future
Despite the impact on its economy and workers, Malaysia won’t rush to reopen its borders, said Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.
Speaking in a televised address on Wednesday (16 Sep), Muhyiddin noted how countries around the world are struggling to contain the virus and prevent new waves.
“The same can happen here if we let our guard down and disregard the global situation”, he said.
He acknowledged that the border closure has affected many Malaysians, especially those working in Singapore, but said that preventing more casualties is just as important.
“We must strike a fine balance between protecting lives and livelihoods of all Malaysians,” he said.
The prime minister also advised Malaysians to avoid large gatherings and wear masks, noting that cases have risen recently.
A total of 615 infections have been reported in the last two weeks, with Kota Setar in Kedah, and Tawau and Lahad Datu in Sabah singled out as hotspots.
Over 35,000 Malaysians Lost Jobs Due to Border Closure
One of the reasons Johor urged the government to fully reopen its border with Singapore is that more than 35,000 Johor residents working in Singapore have lost their jobs since the pandemic started.
In fact, over 250,000 Malaysians who used to travel daily between the borders have also been affected.
According to Menteri Besar Hasni Mohammad, the border reopening “contributes 50% of the Customs revenue to the country,”.
But if you open up, that leaves you more vulnerable to Covid-19, which is why there is no easy solution to this problem.
Governments across the world are facing this tricky balancing act.
Cross-Border Travel Only Allowed For Business, Official, and Work Purposes
At the moment, cross-border travel is only permitted for business, official, and work purposes, which falls under two schemes:
- the reciprocal green lane (RGL)
- the periodic commuting arrangement (PCA)
The RGL allows short-term travel for up to 14 days for essential business or official purposes.
Conversely, the PCA allows residents of both countries who hold long-term immigration passes for business and work purposes in the other country to enter that country for work.
However, under the PCA, only a maximum of 2,000 people are allowed to enter per day.
This may sound like a lot, but a total of 300,000 Malaysians used to enter Singapore for work or school on a daily basis before the pandemic, according to SCMP.
So, let’s hope our border with Johor reopens not just because we miss having delicious banana cake or late-night suppers, but because many Malaysian workers have been stripped of their livelihoods.