Malaysia has closed all borders, but Johor’s government now wants to reopen its border with Singapore

People walking across the Singapore side of the causeway after clearing the Malaysian Checkpoint on March 17, 2020, hours before Malaysia’s Movement Control Order kicked in.
The Straits Times

It’s barely been a day since Malaysia’s Movement Control Order started, and already, there are signs that some exceptions may be made to allow some movement through one of its borders.

On Wednesday (March 18), the state of Johor’s Mentri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohammad said his government was looking into reopening its border with Singapore, The Star reported.

According to the Mentri Besar, the proposed reopening would allow Malaysians and Singaporeans with work passes issued by either government to be exempted from the current 14-day restrictions.

Other groups that could be exempted include Malaysian students studying in Singapore, people with specialised skills, businessmen and people who work in logistics, he added.

A special committee headed by the Mentri Besar will discuss the matter and bring it up with the Singapore government, he said. After that, they will bring the proposal to the Federal Government, The Star reported.

“With the dispensation, the state government will also implement more stringent health checks on both sides of the border crossing,” New Straits Times quoted him as saying.

According to NST, Hasni added that social visitors and tourists will still be barred from entering the country as originally announced.

Rush to cross border

On Tuesday night, The Straits Times reported that there was a frantic rush on both sides of the Causeway as Malaysians working in Singapore rushed home to collect their belongings, before rushing back into Singapore before the 14-day Movement Control Order kicked in.

The order, which is part of Malaysia’s efforts to curb the coronavirus outbreak, started on Wednesday and will last till March 31. During this time, Malaysia’s borders will remain closed to foreigners and Malaysians are not allowed to leave the country.

After announcement of the restrictions on Sunday, many Malaysians who travel to Singapore daily for work or school had to scramble to find accommodation in Singapore.

Singapore’s Manpower Minister was reported by The Straits Times as saying that over 10,000 Malaysians working in Singapore had already found accommodation in the Republic by Tuesday night.

The Singapore government is also helping to house workers in hotels, dorms and residential properties, and has offered companies an allowance of S$50 a day per affected worker.

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