This post updated Wednesday, March 18, 11:30am.
No, it’s not a nationwide lockdown… but it’s getting awfully close to becoming one.
On Monday night, newly minted Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced a range of sweeping closures and restrictions on movements and gatherings set to go into effect on Wednesday, March 18, aimed at mitigating the spread of the novel coronavirus, the pandemic that is now circling the globe. The annoucement and subsequent rollout was less than graceful, resulting in quite a lot of confusion and panic-buying on Tuesday. At some level, it’s understandable as an order like this is unprecedented.
On the first day of the Movement Control Order, additional measures were added, and some clarity provided on previous ones.
Interstate travel is generally prohibited, except in certain cases such as serious illness or death of a family member or other such emergencies. A permit must be obtained at the nearest police station in order to travel between states.
Travel within states, meanwhile, is restricted to movements for food or other essentials. Given the broad range of exemptions announced for mandated closures, however, it’s unclear how this edict will be enforced (or even identified).
The English translation of the measures is as follows, and the effective period is from March 18 to March 31, both dates inclusive:
First, the general prohibition of mass movements and gatherings across the country including religious, sports, social and cultural activities. To enforce this prohibition, all houses of worship and business premises must be closed, except for supermarkets, public markets, convenience stores and convenience stores selling everyday necessities. Specifically for Muslims, the adjournment of all religious activities in mosques, including Friday prayers.
Second, all Malaysians who have just returned from overseas are required to undergo a health check and to do a quarantine (or self-quarantine) for 14 days.
Third, there will be restrictions on the entry of tourists/foreigners to Malaysia. To the best of our knowledge at this time, this restriction seems to also apply to foreigners who are living in Malaysia. Those with the appropriate visa (e.g., Employment Pass, Residence Pass-Talent, MM2H, et al.) will still be denied entry, which is a stunning piece of news. We are seeking additional clarification on this point.
Fourth, closure of all kindergartens, government, and private schools, including daily schools, boarding schools, international schools, tahfiz centres, and other primary, secondary, and pre-university institutions.
Fifth, the closure of all public and private higher education institutions and skills training institutes nationwide.
Sixth, the closure of all government and private premises, except those involved in essential services (water, electricity, energy, telecommunications, postal, transportation, irrigation, oil, gas, fuel, lubricants, broadcasting, finance, banking, health, pharmacy, fire, prison, harbour, airport, security, defense, cleaning, retail, and food supply).
We expect more comprehensive details will be made available, but for now, once again, PLEASE get your information from legitimate sources and do not rely on social media, forwarded emails, and WhatsApp chat groups for timely and accurate information.
Be safe, be responsible, and be kind. Don’t panic, and remember… we will get through this.
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