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As long as the RMCO is in place foreigners who have a ‘social visit pass’ (tourist visa) that expired after 1 January 2020 will be permitted to leave Malaysia without incurring any fines or penalties. The concession does not apply to social visit passes that expired before 1 January 2020.

Neighbouring Thailand gave foreigners a much shorter grace period that ends on 26 September. Foreigners will need to apply for a visa extension or leave Thailand to avoid penalties by the deadline.

Travel to Malaysia will continue to have strict controls with foreigners needing to obtain a Letter of Undertaking and Indemnity’ approved by the nearest Malaysian consulate or embassy in addition to an appropriate visa. However, leisure travellers will not be permitted to visit Malaysia as long as the RMCO is in place. Entry is limited to travellers who have families in Malaysia and for essential travel linked to business and investment activities.

All travellers who are permitted to enter Malaysia must undertake mandatory 14-day quarantine.

Thailand follows similar protocols, strictly applying the 14-quarantine rule but offering travellers arriving in Bangkok what it calls “alternative state quarantine” in certified hotels that are linked to hospitals. They charge around THB70,000 to 50,000 for the 14-day stay, including three meals a day and Covid-19 tests.

Thailand is currently confusing overseas tour operators with contradictory statements by leaders who in the space of a few days suggest they are opening the borders gradually to limited travel and then contradict themselves just days later by suggesting the opposite.

There are various programmes bandied about by the media, but due to the 14-day quarantine rule, they would appeal only to long-stay visitors (six months or more) repeat travellers who are prepared to buy into expensive schemes to return to Thailand.