KUALA LUMPUR (May 10): The whole of Malaysia will be placed under the Movement Control Order (MCO) from May 12 to June 7, said Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin in a statement this evening, as the country grapples with rising Covid-19 infections.
Under this movement restriction that will last almost four weeks, all educational institutions will be closed — with exemptions given only to those with students who are sitting for international exams — and all social visitations and sports and recreational activities are banned (except those in open areas like jogging, cycling and exercising with physical distancing observed). Also prohibited are inter-district and interstate travels, with certain exceptions.
All economic sectors, however, will be allowed to operate, said Muhyiddin. It will also be mandatory for employers to implement the work-from-home policy with attendance of no more than 30% of its management staff at all times.
The announcement expands on the reimposition of the MCO — seen as the third iteration or MCO 3.0 since the first nationwide MCO that began in March 18 until May last year, and the second one that was implemented in selected states in January to February this year — on most parts of Selangor and key cities like Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru last week.
"Based on the increasing trend of daily Covid-19 cases, the government has decided to take more drastic and stringent measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 infections in the community and prevent a sharp increase in cases," Muhyiddin said, adding the decision was made today during a special conference of the National Security Council on the management of Covid-19.
Some of the reasons cited for the expansion of MCO 3.0 include the presence of new coronavirus variants with higher infection rates, increasing constraints on the capacity of the public health system and weak compliance of the standard operating procedures (SOPs) among some members of society.
"Data and science continued to show that social gathering activities which complicate social distancing measures as well as concentration of people in crowded spaces are the main causes of Covid-19 transmission.
"The chain of Covid-19 infection can only be broken by encouraging people to stay at home through tighter movement control," Muhyiddin said.
Muhyiddin, who said today that the country is facing a "more vicious and critical" third wave of Covid-19 infections, previously said in March that there would be no more blanket MCO as it planned to use a more targeted approach to combat the pandemic, to reduce the negative impact of the MCO on the nation's economy, amid the roll-out of the National Immunisation Programme. Even just two days ago on Saturday, Senior Minister (Security) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob was quoted as saying that the government did not intend to implement a nationwide MCO despite rising cases, but would continue with targeted movement restrictions.
Under the new MCO 3.0 Muhyiddin announced today, childcare centres, nurseries and kindergartens are allowed to operate in full compliance with SOPs.
All mass gatherings are prohibited, he said, including face-to-face seminars and meetings. However, akad nikah ceremonies will be allowed following the SOPs set by the state Islamic agencies for Muslims, and by the National Registration Department for non-Muslims, Muhyiddin said.
Dine-ins are also prohibited, while a three-person limit to private vehicles, taxis and e-hailing vehicles will be enforced, he said.
As for the coming Hari Raya celebration, house-to-house visits as well as to the cemetery are not allowed, while Aidilfitri prayers in mosques and suraus are limited to a maximum of 50 people for mosques and suraus that can accommodate more than 1,000 worshippers; and up to 20 people for mosques and suraus that can accommodate less than 1,000 worshippers.
Muhyiddin said the ban on inter-district and interstate travel, as well as social, sports and education activities, which has started on May 10, will last until June 6 as previously announced by Ismail Sabri on May 8. "The enforcement date for the rest of the restrictions and instructions will start on May 12 and last until June 7."
In the meantime, the government will continue to use the Hotspots Identification for Dynamic Engagement (HIDE) system to monitor Covid-19 hotspot areas in order to take follow-up measures accordingly, he said.
"I hope the rakyat will continue to be disciplined and adhere to the SOPs to break the chain of Covid-19 infections. It is best to stay at home to flatten the curve of Covid-19 infections. We have successfully flattened the Covid-19 infection curve in the first and second waves of this pandemic. I would like to remind you that the third wave we are facing right now is more vicious and critical. We still have not won (against Covid-19)," he added.
Malaysia registered 3,807 new Covid-19 cases today — up from 3,733 yesterday — pushing the number of active cases, which carry high transmission risks, to 37,396 — the ninth straight day of staying above the 30,000 mark. It also reported 17 more deaths, lifting the death toll to 1,700. To date, the number of confirmed coronavirus infections in the country has reached 444,484.