KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia announced that it will ease COVID-19 restrictions and reinstate the conditional movement control order (CMCO) for Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Johor and Penang.
Making the announcement during a press conference on Tuesday (Mar 2), Senior Minister for Security Ismail Sabri Yaakob said these areas, originally under the movement control order (MCO), will be placed under CMCO from Mar 5 until Mar 18.
Additionally, Malaysia will relax the COVID-19 restrictions for other areas of the country, with Melaka, Pahang, Sabah, Terengganu, as well as the federal territories of Putrajaya and Labuan being placed under the recovery movement control order (RMCO). These areas were previously under CMCO.
Meanwhile, the states of Kedah, Kelantan, Negeri Sembilan, Sarawak and Perak will remain under CMCO.
Mr Ismail Sabri, who is also defence minister, said that the decision was made because of the reduction in cluster, sporadic and community cases, as well as improvement in Malaysia's infectivity rate.
He added that inter-district travel would now be permitted in all states except Sabah. Interstate travel is still prohibited.
Mr Ismail Sabri also added that more businesses in the tourism sector would now be allowed to operate, such as zoos, farms, aquariums, edutainment centres, museums and cultural centres, as well as spas and massage centres.
Earlier this year, all states in the country except Sarawak were placed under MCO in response to a spike in COVID-19 cases.
Most states transitioned into CMCO in mid-February, with Perlis placed under recovery movement control order until Mar 4.
Sarawak, as announced earlier, is under CMCO until Mar 15.
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MCO 2.0, as it is widely known, is a relaxed version of the first MCO implemented in March last year.
The first MCO saw almost all economic activities ceased, except for essential services such as food and beverage outlets and pharmacies.
In contrast, under MCO 2.0, more economic sectors are allowed to function in order to balance between saving lives and sustaining livelihood.
Since MCO 2.0 was enforced in January, Malaysia has continued to battle a sharp spike in infections and has consistently reported four-digit daily increases in COVID-19 cases.
However, the COVID-19 infectivity rate, or R-naught (R0), has been trending downwards over the last month.
Malaysia also kicked off its national COVID-19 immunisation programme on Feb 24. It is targeting to immunise 80 per cent of its 32 million population in a year to achieve herd immunity.
On Monday, Malaysia recorded 1,828 new COVID-19 cases.
So far, Malaysia has reported a cumulative tally of 302,580 infections and 1,135 deaths.
There are currently 25,542 active cases, with 198 patients in intensive care and 90 people requiring ventilator support.