Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that Langkawi has been selected as the first travel bubble programme in the country.
Local visitors may return starting 16 September.
In a statement dated yesterday, 2 September, Ismail said the decision was made unanimously by a newly-formed special taskforce of which he heads, reported New Straits Times.
The taskforce – called the Pandemic Management Special Committee – picked Langkawi after resolving to reopen the struggling tourism sector.
"Pulau Langkawi has been picked as the pilot project to be reopened to local tourists starting 16 September," he wrote on Twitter.
Other tourist destinations will be added to the programme soon
In an accompanying graphic, Ismail stated that other islands and tourist destinations will also be added to the travel bubble programme after the "vaccination rate reaches 80%".
It was not specified whether the 80% threshold referred to the total Malaysian population or the locals who live at said travel destination.
Earlier on 1 September, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said that Malaysia is expecting to enter the endemic phase of the COVID-19 virus by the end of October, subject to the former threshold.
On the same note, Ismail said Malaysia's COVID-19 recovery is showing promising signs
Despite the roaring new case numbers, which have hovered around the 20,000 mark for almost a month, the Prime Minister announced Malaysia's R-naught (R0) has finally fallen below 1.0.
The R0 – a virus' effective reproduction rate – is a measure that represents how infective and spreadable it is.
A value under 1.0 means an infected person would, on average, spread it to a maximum of one other person.
"Alhamdulillah, today, for the first time in months, the infectivity rate nationwide dropped... I am confident that we are on the right track toward national recovery," he was quoted as saying by New Straits Times.
He enthused that based on the projected data, Malaysians must prepare to live with the virus very soon
According to a The Straits Times report, Ismail quoted figures which indicate that the average vaccinated numbers for adults in all states will be 80% by end of this month, and 100% by the end of October.
"Eventually we have to live with COVID-19 as is the case around the world."
As of 2 September, Malaysia's adult population which are fully vaccinated sits at 65.9%, while the total population sits further back at 47.2%.
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