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COVID-19: PM Announces Relaxation in MCO Restrictions
02 May 2020 | Written by dtnweb

Yesterday, Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin confirmed the government will lift some of the restrictions imposed to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Announced on International Labour Day, the new relaxed controls – dubbed a ‘Conditional Movement Control Order’ – will begin from Monday, 4th May 2020.

As part of the new regulations, certain economic and social activities will be permitted, although mass gatherings remain prohibited. The news was confirmed by the Prime Minister in a televised address, in which he emphasised the need for Malaysia’s economy to get going again.

“Beginning 4th May, almost all economic sectors will be allowed to open with conditions,” said the Prime Minister. “If we are under MCO for too long, we will not get any income and this will have a negative impact on our finances,” he added.

The MCO restrictions, which have been in place since March, have caused an estimated RM63 billion in losses. According to Muhyiddin, the damage to Malaysia’s economy could reach RM100 billion if the full MCO were allowed to continue for another month.

Under the new, relaxed measures, outdoor activities such as badminton and tennis will be allowed, as will jogging, cycling, golf and running (provided it is in small groups of no more than 10 people). In the interests of public safety, sports that feature large groups and physical contact – football, rugby etc. – will remain banned under the new MCO. Muhyiddin added that sectors permitted to operate must also adhere to standard operating procedures set by the authorities.

Nationwide travel restrictions remain in place, with all interstate travel banned. Schools remain closed, while religious activities and gatherings including Friday prayers and gatherings at houses of worship will also not be allowed. Under the new conditional MCO, businesses that attract crowds, such as cinemas, night clubs, entertainment centres, bazaars and exhibitions will remain closed.

In a major step towards normality, people will be allowed to eat in at restaurants from Monday onwards. In order for this new freedom to be eased in safely, tables at all dining establishments must be placed at least two metres apart, while the number of customers is also being limited according to the size of the venue in question.

According to the Prime Minister’s statement: “restaurants must register the names of all customers, to enable contact tracing if someone tests positive for COVID-19.” Social distancing will also be enforced through 1-metre separation lines for queues at the cashier. Hand sanitizer will be provided at payment counters, while restrooms must be permanently stocked with hand soap. All workers will be required to wear protective equipment such as masks, and may also take the temperature of patrons.

The news is a landmark in the global COVID-19 recovery, as Malaysia becomes one of the first countries to lift its social restrictions. As the nation takes its first steps towards normal daily operations, the world will be watching and hoping the relaxation of control measures is implemented safely and with success. It is hoped the same move can be repeated elsewhere.

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