Given that up to 300,000 Malaysians commuted daily to Singapore before the epidemic, the border closure in March 2020 left tens of thousands of individuals trapped on both sides, isolated from their families and fearful for their jobs.
After nearly 2 years of closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Singapore and Malaysia opened once again one of the world’s busiest land borders on Monday, allowing vaccinated travellers to cross.
Despite the joy of being reunited with family and friends, there were fears that the border would be closed again owing to the new coronavirus strain Omicron.
A few dozen persons waiting to board the first buses to Malaysia at Singapore’s Queen Street bus terminal expressed concern.
“Because of the new version, the borders may close soon,” Eugene Ho, a 31-year-old banker leaving Singapore for the 1st time in nearly two years, said. “I’m quite concerned about becoming stuck.”
Travellers must test negative for COVID-19 before leaving, and Malaysia also mandates an on-arrival test, a move Singapore made on Sunday in response to worries about the Omicron variant.
On his 1st visit to Singapore as PM, Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob was greeted by Singaporean PM Lee Hsien Loong at one of the land border crossings.
A 41-year-old semiconductor engineer, Siva Kumar, had been bombarded with calls from his two teenage boys, who were excitedly awaiting his homecoming.
“‘Where are you now?’ they’ve been asking all morning. ‘Have you yet taken the bus?’ “Kumar stated his opinion. “I’d like to hug and kiss them. They’ve been greatly missed.”
Before the outbreak, up to 300,000 Malaysians commuted to Singapore daily.
The border’s abrupt closure in March 2020 stranded tens of thousands on both sides, separating families and worrying about their jobs.
According to Singapore government standards, up to 1,440 visitors from either side can cross the land border each day without being quarantined if they have citizenship, permanent residency, or long-term visas in the destination country.
On Monday, a new air travel route between the two countries opened.
Singapore has immunized 85 per cent of its people, while Malaysia has vaccinated roughly 80% of its population.
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