Singapore, Malaysia allow cross-border travel on compassionate grounds
This will start from May 17, but arrangements like air travel bubble put on hold
Travel on compassionate grounds between Singapore and Malaysia will be allowed from May 17, amid Covid-19 restrictions that ban the bulk of cross-border movement, the two countries announced yesterday.
But given the escalating Covid-19 situation in both countries, other arrangements like an air travel bubble and short-term visits for business, as well as a planned in-person meeting in Singapore between top leaders, will be put on hold.
Details of the special travel arrangements on compassionate grounds will be released later, but these will include steps like testing visitors for the coronavirus as well as the need for quarantine, said Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan yesterday.
He made the announcement with his Malaysian counterpart Hishammuddin Hussein, who ended his two-day official visit to Singapore yesterday.
Mr Hishammuddin said people on either side may request to make trips across the border to be with those who are critically ill or to attend funerals.
Dr Balakrishnan said the move is necessary due to the "extensive ties" the two nations share.
"When a family crisis occurs, people want to get together. And therefore, bearing in mind this very special close relationship between the people of Singapore and the people of Malaysia, it is necessary to have schemes like this," he said.
Details of the procedures and entry requirements will be released later by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority of Singapore and Department of Immigration of Malaysia.
Singapore has tightened measures due to a spike in cases in the community and the emergence of new clusters over the past week, while Malaysia is expected to impose new movement curbs following a jump in cases over the past two weeks.
Both foreign ministers yesterday also talked about mutually recognising vaccine certificates to facilitate cross-border travel, which will be done digitally, said Mr Hishammuddin.
The ministers expressed their satisfaction that despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, bilateral relations and cooperation remained intact and strong, as demonstrated by the uninterrupted movement of goods between both countries.