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COVID-19: Face masks compulsory in Malaysia's crowded public spaces, transportation from Aug 1

COVID-19: Face masks compulsory in Malaysia's crowded public spaces, transportation from Aug 1

A couple wearing protective face masks speak to each other at Kuala Lumpur Tower, amid the COVID-19 outbreak in Malaysia on Jul 2, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Lim Huey Teng)

KUALA LUMPUR: The wearing of face masks in crowded public spaces and on public transportation will be made compulsory starting Aug 1, said Malaysian Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob on Thursday (Jul 23).

Those not wearing masks may face a RM 1,000 (US$235) fine, he said during a media conference on developments concerning the Recovery Movement Control Order in Parliament. 

Mr Ismail Sabri said the decision was made after taking into account the emergence of new clusters. 

He said that for now, the ruling will only be enforced on public transportation such as Light Rail Transit (LRT) and Mass Rapid Transit (MRT), and at crowded public spaces such as markets and farmers’ markets.

READ: Malaysia reverts to mandatory quarantine at government centres following cases of stay-home violation

Mr Ismail Sabri, who is also Defence Minister, said that the health ministry will soon be issuing guidelines to ensure that those who stitch their own face masks comply with specifications and conditions set by the World Health Organization (WHO).

“The government has all this while not made it (use of face masks) mandatory as we understand the situation faced by those from the lower-income group in purchasing the disposable type," said Mr Ismail Sabri. 

“This is because for disposable masks, it is best to change to new ones after three hours. A large family would find this costly, so WHO has come out with guidelines for non-disposable face masks, but on the condition, they meet specifications,” he added.

READ: Malaysian PM Muhyiddin warns against complacency, mulls compulsory mask-wearing in public

People are advised to wear masks even before the enforcement of the new rule on Aug 1, said Mr Ismail Sabri, adding that the use of face masks and practising social distancing are two important factors in curbing the spread of COVID-19. 

"Until Aug 1, protect yourselves, many will be going home to celebrate Hari Raya (Aidiladha) next week and I hope the standard operating procedures will be complied with,” he said. 

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