A vaccine visa to allow travel between countries

KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 30): Malaysia is already “working on” a vaccine visa that will allow vaccinated people to skip the mandatory quarantine when crossing borders, The Edge reported in its latest issue.

“A vaccine visa or health passport is designed to help nations be sure that all travellers are safe and do not pose a risk of causing the spread of Covid-19. Designed to work while the governments are still enforcing travel restrictions and quarantine policies, the health passport can be the first step to ensuring the safe reopening of international travel,” Malaysia Aviation Group Bhd (MAG) explained to the weekly.

MAG also revealed that talks are being held with the local authorities on the implementation of such a “health passport”.

It added that “decisions on the implementation of a health passport are being made at the government level” and it is “a developing situation”.

Travel industry players will be the most glad if vaccine visas are finally approved but they also noted that “there is no uniform global approach to developing the document”, with a lack of coordination and standardisation among organisations and authorities.

“For instance, I see a problem coming from the digital travel pass the International Air Transport Association (IATA) is developing [which contains key testing and vaccine details]. While it may gain acceptance among its member airlines, the big question is whether countries will accept it,” said  former president of the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents and former chairman of the Pacific Asia Travel Association, Tunku Datuk Seri Iskandar Tunku Abdullah.

“What happens when a Covid-19-vaccinated passenger with the IATA travel pass is allowed to board the aircraft — will he or she be allowed to disembark upon presentation of the document at the destination or will the country have other Covid-19 screening requirements?” he asked.

Tunku Iskandar added a vaccine visa or passport must be one that is endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

Air France-KLM country manager for Malaysia, Thailand and Brunei Estee Ng said a “vaccine visa or passport must involve all countries. Otherwise, it would not work as every country will be going its own way”.  

“Currently, every country has different Covid-19 testing requirements to enter. For instance, international passengers are still able to transit at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, but Thailand has banned all flights with passengers infected with Covid-19 from transiting through its airports. The quarantine periods in these two countries are also different,” Ng added.

Read the full report in this week’s The Edge Malaysia

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