KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysia fully reopened its borders on Friday, dropping quarantine requirements for people vaccinated against COVID-19 after two years of strict travel restrictions.
The Southeast Asian nation has maintained some of the tightest entry curbs in the region to try to contain coronavirus outbreaks, with most foreign nationals barred from entry and returning Malaysians required to undergo quarantine.
A flight carrying 140 passengers from Indonesia to Kuala Lumpur was greeted with a water salute after touching down.
“Because of the pandemic, it’s been hard but finally I’ve managed to get on a plane after so long. And it’s nice that we are being greeted so warmly here,” said Ikrima Irza Fatika, 19, an Indonesian traveller visiting the capital.
The reopening of borders marks the start of the country’s transition to the endemic phase of COVID-19, the government has said, and comes as neighbouring countries like Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand also drop most travel restrictions.
Malaysia is expecting to attract two million tourists this year following the lifting of curbs, tourism minister Nancy Shukri said, according to state news agency Bernama.
(Reporting by Ebrahim Harris; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor and Nick Macfie)