KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 4): Interstate travel which Malaysians have been long awaiting is in sight, following the increase in the Covid-19 vaccination rate of the adult population in the country.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said he understood the feelings of the people who wanted to return to their hometowns to visit their parents and that the good news would be announced once the  vaccination rate reached 90% for adults.

“I believe many people want to return to their kampungs… some have not seen their parents for more than a year, some parents are not healthy. My late mother, if I didn't come back every week or two weeks once, she would cry when I phoned her.

“Many I believe are in the situation like I faced before. We understand but because of the pandemic, we have to restrict our movements but I have said we will not restrict the movement of the people forever," he said in an exclusive interview aired on local television stations on Sunday night.

He was confident that unrestricted interstate travel is fast approaching as the percentage of the adult population fully vaccinated is further increasing and has reached over 86%.

The Prime Minister also explained that the government's move to increase the adult vaccination rate from 80% to 90% before allowing unrestricted interstate travel was aimed at ensuring that no state was left behind once it was announced.

“I just want to explain why the 80% suddenly became 90%. It is because there were still states where the percentage was lower when others had reached 80%.

“So to open up the whole of Malaysia, we do not want to leave behind the states that still have a lower percentage of their (adult) people (fully) vaccinated. That's why we are waiting for 90% because we believe when it is 90%, each state's average would be more than 80%. Thus once we reach 90%, we'll announce. This will be good news for all Malaysians,” he said.

Ismail Sabri said that since the Movement Control Order (MCO) was implemented to curb the spread of Covid-19, the tourism sector was one of the sectors that was the most impacted.

"It depended on interstate travel... as long as it is not allowed, tourism cannot be restarted and the tourism sector cannot be reopened," he said.

On MyTravelPass, the Prime Minister said the government would allow people to go abroad without having to apply for the pass once the 90% threshold was reached.

“In the past, we imposed flight restrictions because we did not allow our people to travel abroad, that is why we filtered as to who can leave the country, but for business we allow it and for students pursuing their studies or entering private universities overseas, we are allowing without MyTravelPass.

"But for tourism, we still don't allow it. For husbands to meet their wives, we do allow but they must make an application but I want to say that when the vaccination rate has reached 90% for two doses, we will allow our people to go abroad without applying for MyTravelPass again,” he said.

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