Sunday, May 26, 2024
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‘Brunei, Malaysia in discussion to open land borders’

James Kon

The Government of Brunei Darussalam is still in discussion with Malaysia on the possibility of re-opening the land borders separating the two nations.

This was stated by Special Duties Officer Grade I at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Norsyamimi binti Mohammad Ramli in an interview with the Weekend Bulletin yesterday, adding that the standard operating procedures (SOPs) are still under review.

Meanwhile, from yesterday, citizens, permanent residents and foreign nationals in the Sultanate are allowed to make non-essential travel via air to 11 Travel Green List nations without applying for exit travel approval from the PMO.

Norsyamimi said the criteria to make the Travel Green List include certain risks of the country.

“Most importantly, we look at reciprocal cities and how well we know their healthcare systems and infrastructures as well as their vaccination programmes,” she said, adding that the amount of traffic between Brunei and green list countries are also being looked into, including airline routes.

“The current Travel Green List is a trial, and we hope to expand the list in the future,” she said.

Meanwhile, travellers from non-Travel Green List countries are still required to apply for entry travel pass (ETP) from the PMO.

However, exit travel approval is not required for foreigners working in the Sultanate including visiting countries not on the green list.

She added, “Upon returning from non-green list countries, you will need to apply for the ETP.”

Meanwhile, Senior Medical Officer at the Ministry of Health (MoH) Dr Pengiran Sirajul Adli bin Pengiran Haji Jamaludin said even if COVID-19 cases continue to increase or decrease, it will not be caused by the re-opening of borders.

“The number of cases will eventually stabilise, or may even fluctuate. Based from the data we assessed last year, the number of imported cases is really low in terms of the volume of travellers. Although the border crossing was restricted, Omicron still found its way into the country,” he said.

Travellers arriving from green list countries need to undergo RT-PCR testing and antigen rapid test (ART) screening upon arrival at the airport.

“They can go to their accommodation to await their results. Once the result is negative, their quarantine is complete. ART screenings on the second and third days are mainly for surveillance purposes,” Dr Pengiran Sirajul Adli said.

According to the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA), all travellers arriving in the Sultanate can choose to isolate either at a hotel or at home.

Acting DCA Deputy Director Muhamad Emmy Shamdy Khairul bin Haji Kadir said, “The DCA has eased restrictions for families, friends or representatives of arriving travellers to allow them to pick up arriving passengers in accordance with the capacity of the Brunei International Airport, which is 75 per cent of the total capacity, or around 1,000 people.”

Those picking up arriving passengers are urged to continue to follow SOPs by scanning the BruHealth QR code and temperature, wearing face masks and maintaining physical distance from one another.

The acting deputy director added, “Travellers coming to Brunei from a non-Travel Green List country and transiting through a Travel Green List country are considered as departing from non-Travel Green List country.”

Medical Officer at the MoH Pengiran Dr Muhammad Ali bin Pengiran Anak Rosledzana warned that legal action will be taken against those who fail to comply with the health protocols.