Eid 2021: Will Malaysia ban interstate travel?

Hopes to ‘balik kampung’ after last year’s lockdown Hari Raya may be dashed as cases remain high in the country

Eid 2021: Will Malaysia ban interstate travel?

Will Malaysians get to ‘balik kampung’ or return to their hometowns this year for Hari Raya? Unlikely, going by the recent spike of COVID-19 cases and the authorities' proposal to continue the ban on interstate travel till well after Aidilfitri. If the government approves the ban, Malaysian families living in different states will be separated for the second year in a row and endure another quiet festive season.

This week, the state police reminded residents that domestic travel will only be allowed for work, medical or educational purposes as well as emergency reasons, such as a death in the family, and for long-distance spouses.

Travel is also subject to approval, and only considered during the weekdays from Monday to Thursday, clarified Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani. Although the country is no longer in a strict lockdown or Movement Control Order (MCO), the authorities are curbing cross state travel after it led to a massive spread of the virus last year.

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Travel for social events such as weddings or for visiting family in a different state will continue to be banned until after Hari Raya, which falls on May 13 and will last for a month. “Those who do not comply will face strict action,” the deputy inspector-general said.

In addition, Malaysia’s Health Minister Adham Baba proposed to postpone interstate travel till after the festive season due to the evolving COVID-19 situation. Daily cases have reached over 2,000 recently, with fears lingering around the spread of the new, more aggressive variants from overseas. Another reason to halt travel is due to the country’s ongoing vaccination program, of which progress has been uneven due to the sheer size of the nation.

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Aidilfitri aside, the state police are more concerned with monitoring Ramadan bazaasr and night markets this month to ensure compliance with safety and standard operational procedures, reported Malay Mail. Despite the spike in cases, bazaars have been greenlighted to run during the annual fasting month, though with strict SOPs. The police warned that if mechants were found guilty of breaching the COVID safety rules, they won’t hesitate to suggest a shutdown of all activities.

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