Malaysia’s Johor state government seeks to reopen the border with Singapore within the next few days and would be done with more stringent health checks on both sides of the border, Menteri Besar Hasni Mohammad said earlier today (18 March).
Mr Hasni said in a press conference earlier that his special committee along with the state secretary and state security council will discuss the matter today, The Star reported.
While another meeting with the Singaporean counterparts will be held tomorrow (19 March) before the committee proceeds the matter to the Federal Government for an announcement.
According to Mr Hasni, the government will come up with a mitigation plan amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Among the categories exempted are those with work passes by Malaysia or Singapore, students studying in Singapore, those with specialised skills, businessmen, those involved in logistics and others that would be announced soon,” he noted.
The announcement was made following the Movement Control Order that was imposed by the Malaysian government beginning from 18 to 31 March amid the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the country.
The order, made under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 and the Police Act 1967, has tightened border controls by imposing prohibitions on both outbound and inbound travel, except for lorries and people with special permission.
Meanwhile, on 17 March, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong posted on Facebook that Malaysians who live in Johor but are working in Singapore will be required to follow the Movement Control Order and refrain from traveling outside of the country — including to Singapore.
Mr Lee hinted that the government is working on making arrangements with Singaporean companies to help the affected Malaysian workers stay in Singapore temporarily, adding that the governments of both countries have already appointed Senior Ministers on both sides — namely Teo Chee Hean and Ismail Sabri — to coordinate responses to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“They are already in touch, but it may take a couple of days for arrangements to be worked out and to settle down,” he added.