Johor Bharu, Nov 29 — Singapore and Malaysia re-opened one of the world’s busiest land borders today, allowing vaccinated travelers to make the crossing after nearly two years of closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The sudden closure of the border in March 2020 left tens of thousands of people stranded on both sides, separated from families and fearing for their jobs.
As many as 300,000 Malaysians commuted daily to wealthy city-state Singapore before the pandemic.
Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob is also due to make his first official visit to Singapore today.
Under the new arrangement, up to 1,440 travelers from each side can travel if they hold citizenship, permanent residency, or long-term visas in the destination country, without undergoing quarantine, according to guidelines published by the Singapore government.
Travelers must test negative for Covid-19 before departure, and Malaysia also requires travelers to pass the on-arrival Covid-19 test. Singapore on Sunday followed suit by requiring an on-arrival test due to concerns over the new Covid-19 variant Omicron.
A vaccinated air travel lane between the two countries also started today.
Singapore has vaccinated 85% of its entire population, while Malaysia has jabbed around 80%.
Singapore, with an aging population of 5.5 million, relies heavily on Malaysians living in Johor, which is connected to Singapore by land, to staff businesses ranging from restaurants to semiconductor manufacturing.
Singapore reported 747 locally acquired Covid-19 cases on Sunday, the lowest tally since mid-September. Malaysia reported 4,239 cases on Sunday, the smallest number since early November.