Malaysia is currently looking to expand its Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTL) list to include more countries, the foreign ministry revealed. According to Bernama, citing a written reply by the ministry in Parliament, the government is currently negotiating with 12 countries that have been selected based on diplomatic relations and the need for cross-border travel.
“As such, for the ASEAN region, the Malaysian government is negotiating with Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand,” the foreign ministry wrote. “The other countries are Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Korea and the United Kingdom.”
The ministry explained there are three phases in the VTL negotiations: preliminary negotiations, comprehensive negotiations, and implementation phases. It added that countries that are currently in the first phase include Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, the UK, Vietnam and Thailand, whereas those in comprehensive negotiations include Brunei, Indonesia, and Korea.
As most of us are aware of by now, the only country from the list that is in the VTL implementation phase with Malaysia so far is Singapore, which has been in effect since 29 November of last year. That being said, travel between the two countries was temporarily halted due to the Omicron wave and then later resumed last month, but with the quota of ticket sales reduced to half of its original implementation.
The ministry also noted that the Omicron wave has also slowed down the progress of negotiations, therefore it will still take some time until VTL expansions with the aforementioned countries (sans Singapore) could be achieved. “Although each country has adopted cautious approaches, negotiations about targeted reopening of borders in stages are still ongoing, and the Foreign Ministry will continue to cooperate with all ministries and agencies to ensure the VTL coordination and negotiations can be implemented,” it added.