KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s movement control order (MCO) will be extended for a further month until Jun 9, the fourth extension since it was enforced on Mar 18, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said.
In a special address on Sunday (May 10), the prime minister said even though the country saw many positive developments in its fight against COVID-19, the efforts have not fully succeeded. The MCO was originally scheduled to end on Tuesday.
"Based on public opinion, I realised that people want the government to continue to take the necessary steps to fight against the epidemic.
"Therefore, on the advice of the Ministry of Health and the National Security Council, I would like to announce that the conditional MCO, which was enforced until May 12, will be extended until Jun 9, which is another four more weeks," he said.
The MCO, which took effect since Mar 18 to rein in the spread of COVID-19, has previously been extended three times, each for two weeks.
Under the partial lockdown, non-essential businesses and schools were shut while domestic and international travel was prohibited.
There are signs that the restrictions have successfully brought down the number of new infections in Malaysia. From the initial three-digit hike, new cases slowed to mostly two-digit increase beginning mid-April.
As of Saturday, the country reported a total of 6,589 cases and 108 deaths. Close to 75 per cent of the patients have recovered. Across the country, 94.4 per cent of the areas are now categorised as green zones - areas with no new infections for two weeks, Mr Muhyiddin said.
To mitigate the economic impact, Putrajaya rolled out three economic stimulus packages worth RM260 billion (US$60 billion).
Mr Muhyiddin said earlier during his Labour Day address that total losses due to the COVID-19 curbs were estimated at RM63 billion.
The government has eased some COVID-19 curbs by allowing the majority of economic sectors to resume their operations beginning May 4 under a “conditional MCO”, in a move welcomed by industry players.
Mr Muhyiddin said on Sunday that it is estimated that 6.64 million people, or close to half of the country's workforce, have returned to work since the conditional MCO.
He added that all rules and standard operating procedures (SOPs) introduced during the conditional MCO will remain in place until Jun 9. Changes to the SOPs or list of sectors allowed to operate, if any, will be announced from time to time.
PLACES OF WORSHIP TO OPEN
Under the MCO, religious activities and assemblies in places of worship have not been allowed. This restriction will soon be eased when SOPs are put in place, Mr Muhyiddin said on Sunday.
The Malaysian Islamic Development Department is now finalising the SOPs to be followed by the congregations. Once ready, the SOPs will be presented to the king and the government will then announce the permission to pray in mosques, the prime minister said.
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The same goes for churches and other houses of worship, he added, with SOPs to be announced.
With interstate travel still banned, Mr Muhyiddin said people will not be allowed to cross states to celebrate a few upcoming festivals, including Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Pesta Kaamatan and Hari Gawai, the latter two being harvest festivals in East Malaysia.
While advising against open house gatherings and banquets, the prime minister said gatherings of up to 20 people are allowed during the celebrations.
"Each family has to adhere to health SOPs, such as social distancing, wearing masks and practising personal hygiene including using hand sanitiser throughout the celebrations," he said.