Johor Official Says Singapore Won’t Reopen Border If Covid-19 Cases Increase
Many Singaporeans and Johor Bahru residents alike have been hoping that the border will open soon, and life will get back to normal for workers and businesses that rely on the free movement of people across the Causeway.
Unfortunately, those hopes have again been dashed, with the declaration of JB as a “red zone” after a recent rise in Covid-19 cases.
A Johor official has said that Singapore won’t open the border if the spike continues, and warned of worse things to come if a lockdown is declared in JB.
JB declared red zone after surpassing 40 cases in 14 days
On Friday (30 Oct), Johor health and environment committee chairman R. Vidyananthan said JB has been declared a ‘red zone’, reported Malaysian English daily The Star.
This status means the city has recorded 41 Covid-19 cases or more in the last 14 days, according to Malaysia’s Ministry of Health.
If there has been 1 to 40 cases in that time, the area is a yellow zone, and if no cases have been reported, it’s a green zone.
According to Mr Vidyananthan, 10 new Covid-19 cases were reported on Thursday (29 Oct), bringing the total to 897.
Singapore won’t open border when cases spike
JB’s red zone status isn’t good, because it means that Singapore won’t reopen the border due to the spike in cases, a Johor official has warned.
The Star quoted Mr Michael Tay, the Government Affairs coordinating chairman for Johor’s Malaysian Chinese Association, as saying that if JB wants to reopen the border, the number of cases must be kept down.
This is especially since Singapore’s number of daily cases has been reduced to single digits, he added.
He also said that the border closure has affected the state’s economy badly.
Johoreans urged to fight Covid-19
Thus, Mr Tay urged Johoreans to do all they can to fight Covid-19.
That includes being meticulous in taking measures to contain the spread of the virus, for example practising social distancing and wearing masks while outdoors.
Mr Low Kueck Shin, president of the Johor Baru Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that sacrifices had to be made.
He urged Johoreans not to travel unnecessarily, saying they had to “work really hard” to take the measures seriously.
Lockdown for JB will be ‘serious trouble’
Mr Tay also warned that the government could impose a lockdown on JB.
Such a measure would be similar to the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) that’s currently being implemented in the Klang Valley, which started on 14 Oct and encompasses capital Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Selangor state.
If a CMCO is announced for JB, there’s going to be “serious trouble”, he said.
That’s ostensibly because JB businesses will be further affected, said Mr Low, as even local patronage will be reduced.
Be alert even without ‘red zone’ status
Malaysia Tourist Guides Council president Jimmy Leong was also quoted as advising tourism industry players not to let their guard down even if JB’s red zone status is cleared.
Johoreans should still keep on following safe management measures nonetheless, he added.
Mr Low also urged employers to be alert on social distancing measures and be aware of their workers’ health.
That’s because most of the infections reported occurring among colleagues at workplaces, as well as among family members.
Prolonged border closure affects many
It’s truly sad that the JB-Singapore border has been closed for so long, separating families and affecting businesses.
While Singaporeans miss going shopping and eating in JB too, such concerns seem trivial when it’s compared with the loss of livelihoods and sense of loneliness that our Malaysian cousins may feel.
Let’s hope Malaysia, or at least Johor, can get the Covid-19 spread under control as soon as possible, so that the authorities can feel comfortable opening the borders again.
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