Lankawi could reopen in September.
No doubt with a keen eye on Phuket’s sandbox scheme, Malaysia’s Ministries of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) and of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) have put their heads together and come up with a plan to expedite vaccination efforts in Lankawi. The idea is to get 80%, or around 61,000 of the islands residents inoculated with an eye to reopening the island to tourists in September.
Like its neighbour in Thailand, Langkawi is heavily dependent on tourism and has been suffering due to extended lockdowns. Reopening will help restart the islands economy. All visitors will need to have had both jabs of one of the approved vaccines which include Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford/AstraZeneca, Janssen (Johnson & Johnson), Sinovac and CanSino.
If the scheme is successful it could be rolled out in some of the country’s other holiday islands such as Tioman, Pankor, Redang and Perhentian.
Whether, and under what conditions, international travellers will be allowed to enter will be decided at a later date. September is still a long way off in the life of a pandemic.
Malaysia is still struggling under the weight of a strict lockdown. As of July 20 there had been 939,899 cases in total with 7,241 fatalities. So far a little over 30% of the population has received their first dose of the vaccine with about 14% being fully vaccinated.
Phuket is tightening restrictions to keep its daily new cases down and to protect its sandbox scheme. According to the Bangkok Post Pubs, bars and karaoke lounges have been shut down until August 2. Restaurants serving alcohol will have to close at 9:00 pm and partying on the beach is forbidden.
In the first three weeks of the scheme the island has received almost 7,500 international arrivals out of which 16 have tested positive. The last on the 13th day of his stay. It wasn’t clear if it was thought that the virus was contracted on Phuket or before his arrival.
Photo: Cenang Beach, Langkawi by Nick Lubushko via Wikimedia Commons