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MCO 2.0 to End as Scheduled

Image Credit: HRO
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After March 4, all states will be under either CMCO or RMCO status, which is initially expected to run through March 18.

On March 2, as Malaysia notched its lowest number of confirmed daily new Covid cases (1,555) so far in 2021, Ismail Sabri Yaakob, Senior Security Minister, announced that Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Johor, and Penang will be placed under a conditional movement control order (CMCO) effective March 5, as the MCO 2.0 period will be allowed to expire without another extension.

Additionally, Malaysia will relax the restrictions for other areas of the country, with Melaka, Pahang, Sabah, Terengganu, and the federal territories of Putrajaya and Labuan placed under the recovery movement control order (RMCO). These areas were previously under CMCO. 

The states of Kedah, Kelantan, Negeri Sembilan, Sarawak, and Perak will remain under CMCO. 

Some standard operating procedures (SOPs) will change, but the big one, the ban on interstate travel, still remains in place, a fresh new blow to the reeling tourism and hospitality industry. The government had been urged by scores of business associations and groups to lift the interstate travel restrictions, before even more businesses dependent upon tourism are forced to close for good.

Unfortunately, the pleas appear to have fallen on deaf ears for the time being. A few days ago, Health Director-General Dr Noor Hisham sparked alarm when he suggested interstate travel may be prohibited until such time as at least 70% of the population had been immunised, an extended period of time that would spell certain doom for vast numbers of businesses. It remains to be seen how this will be addressed.

It was also announced, ironically enough, that “more businesses in the tourism sector” would now be allowed to operate, such as zoos, aquariums, edutainment centres, museums and other cultural centres, along with spas and massage centres, as well. However, permitting those businesses to open but prohibiting tourists to travel to them is of dubious value.

A woman walks along an empty KL street in January 2021 | Image Credit: Reuters

For now, effective March 5, inter-district travel will be allowed, though interstate travel is still prohibited. Restaurants, currently permitted to open until 10pm, will be allowed to stay open until midnight, unless local councils rule otherwise.

Again, the movement orders and SOPs are a bit of a hodge-podge (for instance, the lifting of the ban on inter-district travel does not apply to Sabah), and will possibly be amended and/or clarified further before implementation begins on March 5, if history is any predictor.

Events and social activities, such as weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, reunions, retreats, and other activities will generally be permitted with effect from March 5.

However, in states and federal territories under CMCO, such activities must comply with the existing SOPs and are subject to a maximum attendance of 50% of the venue’s capacity. For states under RMCO, meanwhile, event attendance is dictated by the full capacity of the venue.


Additional sectors are expected to be re-opened, and SOPs relaxed for some other sectors. So far, the revised CMCO/RMCO SOPs are as follows:

  • Inter-district travel will be allowed, but interstate travel is still not allowed.
  • Businesses will be allowed to operate from 6am to 12am after MCO is lifted.
  • Creative industries will be allowed to operate and must be limited to 70% capacity in areas under CMCO and 100% capacity in areas under RMCO.
  • Tourism businesses (including family entertainment centres, reflexologies, spas, manicure and pedicure centres) will be allowed to operate at 50% capacity in CMCO areas, but in areas under RMCO, the capacity limit will be determined by how large the area is.
  • Any financial institutions registered under Bank Negara can operate as per usual.
  • Other sectors including farming and construction can operate as per usual.
  • All social events are allowed in areas under RMCO and CMCO. The capacity limit for areas under RMCO is determined by how large the area is and physical distancing must be maintained at all times. Meanwhile, the capacity in areas under CMCO is 50%.
  • Weddings and engagement parties can be conducted for both Muslim and non-Muslim couples.

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