Kuala Lumpur: Following a rapid increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, the Malaysian government announced on Monday (Oct 12) that Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Putrajaya will be put under a Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO).
The tightened restrictions will be enforced from Oct 14 until Oct 27.
During a press conference, Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said that a special meeting with the National Security Council (NSC) has found that the cases in the three places have increased at an "alarming rate".
"After consulting the Ministry of Health and taking into consideration the increase in cases and the spreading of the virus in areas such as Petaling, Klang and Gombak, this was decided.
"Therefore to break the chain of infection, the special meeting today with the NSC has agreed that CMCO will be enforced in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Putrajaya effective 12.01am on Oct 14 until Oct 27," he said.
The minister explained that prohibited activities include inter-district travel. He added that those who needed to make the journey will need to have letters from their employers or a working pass.
"Besides that, only two people from each household are allowed to leave home to get necessities.
"Schools, daycare, public parks and recreational centres will be closed, as will temples, mosques and other places of worship. Additionally, weddings and social gatherings will not be allowed and pubs and nightclubs cannot operate either," he said.
However, Mr Ismail Sabri said that the economic sector would be allowed to continue operating. He added that a more detailed version of the SOPs will be updated soon.
CMCO THE BEST OPTION TO CONTROL INFECTIONS: HEALTH MINISTRY
Following the announcement, Selangor Chief Minister Amirudin Shahri said he would be writing to the NSC to reconsider the enforcement, as there are many areas in the state that are still classified as green zones.
The Health Ministry's director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah then said in a press conference that the drastic measure of enforcing a CMCO was necessary, as all districts in Klang Valley except Sabak Bernam has consistently recorded new cases daily in the last few weeks.
"Although daily cases are lesser than 100, it has been consistent and it has spread everywhere, therefore, we cannot wait for all districts to become red zones. We have to take proactive action.
"What is important is not the daily case numbers but the risk evaluation. It is based on the pattern of the spread of the virus in the state and districts. If the spread was focused, then yes we could have a Targeted MCO, but because it is in every state, it can no longer be effectively controlled that way," he said.
Dr Noor Hisham stressed that the CMCO was the best option to control the infections. He added that enforcing CMCO while allowing the economic sectors to operate was the best the ministry could do to ensure a balance between lives and livelihood.
"Hopefully, this action will bear fruit in two to three weeks," he said.
Malaysia is currently under the recovery phase of the MCO, which was implemented since Mar 18 to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Restrictions were largely eased in the recovery MCO phase, which saw daily lives almost returning to normal. Schools have earlier reopened and businesses have been allowed to resume operations, while domestic travel is encouraged to help revive the tourism industry.
Back in May when Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced the country’s transition from MCO into the CMCO, interstate movement was still banned although most economic sectors of the economy had reopened by then.
Those that remained closed involved mass gatherings, where social distancing would be more difficult to enforce, such as entertainment centres, including cinemas and nightclubs, reflexology centres, and festive bazaars during the Ramadan and Hari Raya Aidilfitri period as well.
The tourism industry itself would slowly resume, as the government gradually reopened Malaysia's economy further, first by allowing interstate travel on Jun 10.
This was followed by the announcement later the same month, that the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) industry, travel and trade fairs, as well as spas and reflexology centres could reopen by Jul 1, but with strict Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in place.
The pandemic appeared to be under control in Malaysia between June and August, until cases started to rise again in September. The sharp rise was due in part to the surge in travel to and from Sabah for the recently concluded state election.
On Monday, it was also announced that Sabah will be placed under CMCO from Oct 13 until Oct 26.
The highest daily case recorded since the rise in September was 691 cases on Oct 6. It was the highest ever recorded in the country.
As of Monday, Malaysia had a total of 16,220 cases and 159 deaths with 5,039 active cases.