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Indonesia, Malaysia and UK eye tourists

Authorities in Indonesia, Malaysia and the United Kingdom are easing pandemic-sparked travel restrictions in a bid to welcome back tourists and foreign business.

Indonesia plans to start opening its borders in November once 70 per cent of its target population have received at least one vaccine shot, its health minister said on Tuesday.

In an interview with Reuters, Budi Gunadi Sadikin said he was taking cues from the strategy adopted by the UK, which he said prioritised rolling out first doses and had achieved a lower rate of hospital admissions and fatalities.

“So for us we concentrate on the first dose. If we can vaccinate 70 per cent of the target population of 208 million, if we can hit 140-150 million, 70 per cent with the first dose, then we can gradually start reopening,” he said.

“And my calculation is that will be reached by November.”

The November 2021 timeline is the first time a senior Indonesian minister has committed publicly to a dateline for reopening the country’s borders.

Only foreign citizens who have diplomatic or working visas, or are eligible for other exemptions, are permitted to enter Indonesia at the moment.

Budi said border restrictions would be eased even further once 70 per cent of the target population had received two doses.

Cabinet ministers have also flagged reopening the resort island of Bali but no timeline has been set.

Social restrictions have been in place since early July but have gradually eased to allow malls, restaurants, cinemas and factories to operate at limited and conditional capacity.

Southeast Asia’s largest economy, struck by one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in Asia, has vaccinated about 25 per cent of its target population but Budi said vaccine rates would need to be almost doubled to two million shots per day by deploying the police and army to help dispense shots.

Meanwhile, businesses at Malaysia’s prime holiday destination are gearing up to welcome the return of tourists this week as the country takes an early step…

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