KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysian government has imposed a 14-day Restricted Movement Order or partial lockdown from March 18 to 31 nationwide to curb the spread of the Covid-19 infection in Malaysia. The Restricted Movement Order is imposed under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 and well as the Police Act 1967, which cover a range of activities.
Speaking to the nation in a special address on Monday night, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the order will entail a ban on all mass gatherings for religious, sport, social and cultural activities. In addition, all houses of worship and business premises will be closed, with the exception of supermarkets, public markets, and sundry and convenience shops which sell daily essentials.
Muhyiddin said for Muslims, all mosque and surau activities – including Friday prayers – will be suspended in accordance with a decision made by the Muzakarah Committee of the National Council for Islamic Religious Affairs on Sunday.
All Malaysians will also be banned from travelling overseas during this 14-day period; while those recently returned from abroad must undergo health checks and self-quarantine for 14 days. All foreign tourists will be banned from entering the country during this time.
Muhyiddin also announced the closure of all pre-schools, government and private schools including daily schools, residential schools, international schools, tahfiz centres and other primary, secondary and pre-university institutions.
All public and private institutions of higher learning and skills training institutions nationwide will also be shuttered for 14 days.
Muhyiddin added that all government and private sector premises will cease operating, with the exception of premises involved in the provision of essential services such as water, electricity, energy, telecommunications, post, transportation, irrigation, oil, gas, fuel and lubricants, broadcasting, finances, banking, health, pharmacies, fire and rescue, prisons, ports, airports, security, defence, public cleansing, retail and food supply.
“I realise that you, my brothers and sisters, may feel that this decision will make it difficult for you to go about your daily lives.
“But this move is necessary to prevent the spread of Covid-19 which could claim the lives of Malaysians, as it has thousands of people in other countries.
“Drastic action should be taken immediately to prevent the spread of the disease by limiting the movement of the public. This is the only way we can prevent more people from being infected by the outbreaks that can destroy lives.
“I hope all of you can endure this challenge. Don’t panic, don’t worry, and stay calm. I believe that with this, we will be able to block the spread of this outbreak in the near future,” Muhyiddin said.
Rumours of an imminent lockdown saw Malaysians engage in panic-buying nationwide today, leaving supermarket shelves bare of everything from toilet paper to canned goods. Malaysia reported 125 new Covid-19 cases today, raising the tally of infections in the country to 553 – the highest toll in Southeast Asia.