Malaysia’s Movement Control Order: The Rules

Image Credit | The Malaysian Reserve
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Under the Movement Control Order (MCO) the Malaysian government has set a number of rules.

The MCO stipulates that no persons are to make any journey from one place to another place, except for the following reasons:

  • To perform any official duty
  • To buy, supply or deliver food or daily necessities
  • To seek healthcare or medical services
  • To make a journey to and from limited categories of premises, including any premises which provide essential services, premises involved in the food supply chain, premises selling food and beverages through drive-through, takeaway and delivery.
  • Any other special purposes that may be permitted by the director-general

Basically, you are permitted to leave your home only to perform necessary tasks and errands, and not for social or leisure purposes.

• The MCO is in place until March 31, but there is always the possibility it may be extended, amended, or strengthened. All residents of Malaysia are essentially required to remain in their homes until March 31, though limited excursions are permitted for necessities. (See below)

• Only essential businesses (water, electricity, banking, energy, oil, gas, and food supply, etc.) are allowed to stay open, all other businesses, including retail shops and food and beverage outlets must close their premises. However, F&B outlets can open for take-away sales. All places of education and worship are required to close.

• Companies are required to pay full wages during this period, but for smaller businesses, that may prove difficult or impossible as they are closed and not earning any income. Unlike European countries, Malaysia has not yet announced any plans to provide any support to cash-strapped households or small businesses.

• One person is allowed to leave their house to go and buy groceries, medicines, etc. If two people are stopped, they will be asked to explain why it required more than one person. The government assures everyone there is no shortage of food.

• The police are being asked to monitor people leaving their homes, and although they can fine you or even imprison you, they are at this time simply reminding people of the rules. The army is being asked to also assist in monitoring movements effective March 23.

• Interstate travel across the country is only permitted with police permission, and there has to be a compelling reason for it.



All foreigners are not permitted to enter the country during the MCO. The only exception is those having PR or expats working in essential businesses. Other expats with employment passes are not allowed entry and this also applies for foreign students and dependents. If you are a foreigner (even residing in Malaysia), you are allowed to leave the country, but bear in mind, you will not be permitted to re-enter, unless you meet the established criteria. If the foreigner is married to a Malaysian, they will be allowed re-entry, again subject to the health rules.

Surprisingly, the restriction on foreigners also excludes people with MM2H visas, even if they have made Malaysia their home. We have appealed this decision, but so far without any success.

Malaysians and those foreigners who are permitted entry will be screened upon entering the country and must comply with a 14-day self-quarantine period.

As noted above, foreigners are allowed to return to their own country, but will not be allowed to return during the MCO period.

If their visa expires during the MCO period, or while they are stuck overseas, they can update it within three months of the MCO period (presumably its end date) or 30 days of returning to Malaysia.


18 MARCH 2020

  1. As you are aware, the Government has declared Restricted Movement Order from 18 to 31 March 2020.
  2. Following the declaration, follow up steps have been taken to coordinate and detail out the implementation of the Order. The National Security Council had a coordination meeting between government agencies on 17 March 2020 to ensure the smooth implementation of the Order. To ensure the needs pf the people are not affected during the restricted period, certain services listed are allowed to operate.
  3. The Order will be effective from 12 midnight, 18 March 2020 The public is required to obey all regulations stipulated by the authorities.
  4. To implement the Restricted Movement Order, the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Measures Within the Infected Local Areas) Regulations 2020 was gazetted on 18 March 2020. PDRM and RELA have been appointed as the authorized persons under Section 3 of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act.
  5. To ensure the effectiveness of the Order, the general public is advised to stay home at all times except to fulfill basic needs. Apart from that, please practice social distancing to prevent being infected by Covid-19.
  6. If there are any further questions, please contact the National Operations Administration Centre, National Security Council at 03-8888 2010.

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