Confusion over Sarawak’s recent travel ban

Bernama Pic

By John Isaac

ZAKIAN Moghni, a Sarawakian working in Melaka, has been caught off guard by Sarawak’s new entry restrictions on travellers from Peninsular Malaysia.

He bought a flight ticket last month to go home for a short holiday next weekend, only to find out that Sarawakians entering from the peninsula now have to be quarantined for 14 days.

“My plan was to fly to Kuching on Oct 9 and return to the peninsula on Oct 12. Before I booked my ticket, I checked with the state disaster management committee on its quarantine requirements.

“At that time there were none, so I bought my ticket. I was hoping to be able to go back next week as I have not been back in two years.

“But suddenly this happened and there was a spike in cases, especially in Sabah,” Zakian, 30, said when contacted yesterday by The Star.

On Thursday, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah announced that non-Sarawakians in Sabah and Labuan would be barred from entering Sarawak from Oct 4 to 18, while Sarawakians would be allowed to return subject to entry clearance and mandatory quarantine.

He also said those entering Sarawak from Peninsular Malaysia between Oct 4 and 18 must apply for permission using the Enter Sarawak application and fill in the e-Health declaration form.

Non-Sarawakians will be quarantined at designated centres for 14 days and tested on the second and fourth day. Sarawakians will also be quarantined but if they test negative on the second day, they will continue the rest of their quarantine at home.

Zakian, a lorry driver, said he was unsure as to whether he would change his ticket to a later date.

“Even if I can change the ticket, I’m worried that something similar might happen again,” he said.

“As Sarawakians, we have to abide by the government’s decision.

“But I hope the government can resolve the situation soon.”

Journalist Nasa Maria Entaban had to cancel her plan of visiting her parents in Kuching.

“It has been nine months since I last met my parents in Sarawak which was during Christmas.

“I had a plan back in March however I had to cancel that because the movement control order (MCO) was implemented just a few days before my departure,” she said.

“This time I was supposed to go and accompany my dad for a medical appointment at the hospital.

“But with the situation and the entry ban, cancelling my plan is the right move,” she said.

Nasa agreed that the decision by the state government was the right thing to do as it was the only way to curb the virus from spreading.

Aina Rashidah, a freelancer based in Kuching, also agreed that the state government’s decision was a good move.

“Besides it is not a literal ban. One can still enter Sarawak but one must adhere to the state’s strict procedure,” she said.

The 25-year-old also added that as an extra precaution, she has reduced going out and if she does wearing a mask is a must.