Malaysia re-opens resort island as vaccinations rise

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA (AP) — Hundreds of holiday-makers flocked to Malaysia’s northern resort island of Langkawi as it re-opened yesterday to fully vaccinated travellers.

Langkawi is the first holiday destination in the country to welcome visitors as part of a domestic tourism bubble. If successful, it could see other holiday destinations following suit in a bid to revive the economy. Malaysia has reported more than two million infections while deaths have surged above 21,000 despite a lockdown in June.

But vaccination has also picked up pace, with three-quarter of the country’s adult population fully inoculated.

The government said a lockdown is no longer feasible and that Malaysians have to learn to live with the virus, which will soon be treated as endemic. Restrictions have been loosened recently and Langkawi was allowed to re-open with strict health protocols.

Travellers older than seven must test negative for COVID-19 before arriving on the island. Local media said airline tickets have been snapped up, with 19 flights carrying holiday-makers due to arrive in Langkawi yesterday.

Ferries carrying hundreds of passengers were also headed to the island, which reportedly expects to welcome 400,000 visitors by the year’s end.

Cinema staff prepare for their re-opening at a shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. PHOTO: AP