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Here We Go Again: MCO 2.0 Set to Be Substantially Expanded

Roadblocks Return in MCO 2.0 | Image Credit: 2Cents
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The whole of Peninsular Malaysia will go under the Movement Control Order beginning January 22.

It’s safe to say that many, if not most, people expected an extension of the MCO 2.0, which had been implemented in about half the states on Malaysia’s Peninsula, along with the Federal Territories. The latest lockdown was set to run through January 26, but even as it was being announced, a general feeling that it would last for more than two weeks was widespread.

What people perhaps didn’t expect is that not only would the MCO be extended, it would also be greatly expanded to include all of Malaysia, with the lone exception of Sarawak.

But that’s precisely what happened.

Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced on January 19 that the MCO will be expanded to and enforced in Kedah, Perak, Negri Sembilan, Pahang, Terengganu, and Perlis with effect from midnight on January 22, adding that the decision was made upon the advice and risk assessment of the Ministry of Health. Sabah is also included in the new directive, along with the states previously under the MCO. The latest lockdown effort will last until February 4.

Another round of lockdowns for the Peninsula | Image Credit: Focus Malaysia

“The standard operating procedures (SOP) are the same as I have announced recently. People are barred from going out, except two persons from a household to get daily essentials and for emergencies,” Ismail Sabri told reporters. “Any need for travel will only be allowed with the consent of the police.”

In outlining the measures, he noted, “Restaurants, shops, food stalls, food trucks, roadside food hawkers, food courts, kiosks, grocery shops, and convenience shops are allowed to operate from 6am to 8pm. People are allowed to pack their food, drive through, or order through food delivery services from 6am to 8pm.”

As of January 20, the government is currently reviewing the data to determine if restaurants should be allowed to operate until 10pm. (Note: The decision was made to allow this, but with a number of SOPs.)

“Hospitals and clinics can open for 24 hours, and pharmacies can operate from 6am to 8pm,” Ismail Sabri explained. “Petrol stations can operate from 6am to 10pm, except for those at highways that can be open around the clock.”

ANOTHER FINANCIAL BLOW

Separately, Malaysia’s Finance Minister, Tengku Zafrul Aziz said that the government expects the MCO to be costly, yet not as economically devastating as the first MCO.

Malaysia’s MCO 2.0 is set to cost the country some RM600 million a day, he explained, compared with RM2.4 billion a day during last year’s lockdown, which ran for about two months.

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Tengku Zafrul Aziz, Minister of Finance, speaks at a media briefing | Image Credit: MCI

“This MCO is unlike the one in March last year, as five essential sectors are still open. Also, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) such as stalls and stores can still operate,” he said at a media briefing on the Permai package.

The five essential sectors are manufacturing, construction, services, trade and distribution, and plantations and commodities.




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