Malaysia to reopen to international visitors by Jan. 1 - govt council

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Tourists visit the Sky Bridge as it reopens to domestic tourists amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Langkawi, Malaysia, September 16, 2021. REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng

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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 11 (Reuters) - Malaysia will reopen its borders to international visitors by Jan. 1 at the latest, a government advisory council said on Thursday, as the country seeks to revive its ailing tourism sector.

The Southeast Asian country has gradually reopened its economy in recent weeks as coronavirus infection rates have slowed amid a ramped-up vaccination programme.

More than three-quarters of Malaysia's 32 million population are vaccinated, government statistics show.

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Former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who chairs a council tasked with spearheading Malaysia's economic recovery programme, told reporters the tourism industry was recovering too slowly without foreigners and noted that operators needed time to resume businesses.

Muhyiddin, however, said infection control measures such as COVID-19 tests will remain in place, with authorities to determine entry based on the COVID-19 situation in originating countries, and other factors.

He did not state when a firm date for reopening will be announced, but said the decision was still being detailed by health and security agencies.

Malaysia this week announced it would launch a vaccinated travel lane with neighbouring Singapore on Nov. 29, allowing quarantine-free travel for inoculated people between both countries.

It has also agreed with Indonesia to introduce a similar travel corridor on a gradual basis. read more

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Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; Editing by Martin Petty

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