After weeks of negotiations, Singapore and Malaysia have agreed to resume cross-border travel, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in a statement said on Saturday, June 27. However, for now, residents, people with long-term immigration passes and groups travelling for work or business will be allowed to enter in both countries.
The discussion was going on for the last two weeks over a travel bubble between the two countries as both began to get back to normalcy following partial and complete lockdown in few areas due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The borders have been closed in March.
According to Singapore MFA, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had a discussion during a phone call with his Malaysian counterpart Muhyiddin Yassin on June 26. The two leaders decided to permit a Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) and a Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA).
"PM Lee and PM Muhyiddin have tasked their officials to work expeditiously on the operational details of the RGL and PCA, and to continue discussions on other proposals to gradually facilitate more cross-border movement of people, so as to ensure a stable recovery by both Singapore and Malaysia from the COVID-19 situation," the MFA statement said.
Green Lane Arrangement
Last week, Malaysia's Defense Minister agreed to allow Singaporeans and expected the city-state to follow suit. However, Singapore was reluctant to allow cross-border travel without any screening and testing. Under the RGL agreement, both countries mutually agreed on public health protocols to be put in place on both sides.
"PM Lee and PM Muhyiddin agreed that any bilateral arrangement would have to include mutually agreed public health protocols, to preserve the public health and safety of citizens on both sides, while taking into account the medical resources available in both countries," the statement added.
With a plan to ease travel restrictions, both countries agreed to allow only certain groups of people. Under the PCA agreement, people who have been stuck in either of the two countries will be allowed to return home.
Residents of Singapore and Malaysia with long-term immigration passes will be able to cross border for work or business purposes and "periodically return to their home countries on short-term leave." However, they have to spend at least three consecutive months in their country of work before they are allowed to re-enter their home country. The operational details of the agreement and health screening arrangements will be made public in the coming days.
"The RGL will facilitate cross-border travel for essential business and official purposes between both countries. Travelers would have to adhere to a set of COVID-19 prevention and public health measures, which are under discussion and will have to be mutually agreed upon by both countries," the statement read.
Earlier this month, Singapore established a green-lane arrangement with China with strict health screening and conditions in place. Apart from China, Singapore is in talks with Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Japan besides Malaysia.