The government has allowed students of public and private institutions of higher learning (IPT), including polytechnics and community colleges under the Ministry of Higher Education (KPT) to return to their hometowns in stages, beginning Monday.

Senior Minister (Security), Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, said currently 53,000 or about 85 per cent of the total students will be allowed to return home.

He said the repatriation of the students involved only the green zone areas with travel from 9 pm to 9 am to avoid congestion and heavy movement during the day.

He said the students had to undergo COVID-19 symptom screening, besides being providedfood and a face mask before boarding the bus.

“Those using the bus will be restricted and will be subject to social distancing. If the seat is for two people, only one person can sit, meaning if the bus is for 40 passengers, only 20 passengers are allowed to board.

“The repatriation process will involve 85 per cent of IPT students under the KPT or about 53,000 people.

"(However), not all the students will go home, because some are not interested in going home because they may be on probation," he said at a press conference here Friday.

Elaborating further, Ismail Sabri said the students would be taken directly from campus by bus to their respective districts.

He said they would be sent to the police station closest to their homes before being sent home by the assigned government agencies.

"For students who have their own vehicle, they are allowed to drive home provided they are not traveling across the state and only one person is allowed per vehicle.

“Before travelling, they need to obtain a permit for movement from the IPT and nearby police stations.

"For students who wish to return to Sabah or Sarawak, their return flight will be provided by the government.

"However, students who are returning to the green zone in Sabah and Sarawak will be flown to the nearest airport to their village and they must undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine order," he said.