Malaysia has entered a conditional movement control order (CMCO) starting Monday (May 4), about a week ahead of the scheduled end of the fourth phase of the MCO on May 12, in a move to restart its economy.
The announcement was made by prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin on May 1. Under the CMCO, almost all economic sectors and business activities will be allowed to operate, except for those businesses and social activities that expose people to the risk of being infected by Covid-19.
“At the same time, the government will enforce the enhanced MCO in areas where the number of Covid-19 positive cases are high,” the prime minister said. He added that restarting the economy is vital for individuals and businesses, as the country loses RM2.4 billion (US$553.2 million) in revenue every day the MCO has been in effect since March 18.
Activities allowed under the CMCO are subject to strict conditions and enforcement of stringent health standard operating procedures as the battle against the spread of Covid-19 in the country continues.
Workers in the retail sector including restaurants must wear face masks and the entry of customers at any one time will be limited. For dine-ins, all premises must adhere to social distancing rules, limit the number of customers, as well as record details of all customers.
The rules of social distancing and restrictions on the number of patrons applies to all retail outlets operating during this CMCO as well, which also must be disinfected three times daily.
Based on guidelines for the reopening of the economy provided by the National Security Council, hotels are allowed to operate 24 hours and to take in guests comprising frontliners in the fight against Covid-19, professionals from essential services such as oil and gas, and sectors that have contractual period agreements with hotels. Staying in hotels for leisure purposes is still not allowed. Also, hotel facilities such as prayer rooms, gym, swimming pools, spas, lounges and meeting facilities cannot be used. Restaurants and cafes also cannot serve buffets.
Businesses that are not allowed to operate during the CMCO include theme parks, nightclubs, movie theatres, museums and all indoor sports operators. Activities prohibited during this period includes swimming and contact sports, ecotourism activities in the jungle, meetings, conferences, seminars, workshops, exhibitions, as well as social and public gatherings and all form of assemblies.
While interstate travel for tourism purposes is still not allowed, Nigel Wong, honorary secretary of the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) said: “We hope as the Covid-19 situation improves, internal borders will gradually reopen and domestic travel can resume. Industry expectations are that inbound and outbound travel will see early signs of recovery by early next year.”
Sharmini Violet, director of sales & marketing at Mega Water Sports Jetski Tours in Langkawi, said the company will not operate its jetski tours until the government says that it is safe to travel for domestic tourism.
She added: “We believe domestic tourism will rebound ahead of inbound travel. However, we are selling ‘buy now, travel later’ open tickets, and offering discounts of up to 40 per cent for advance bookings for travel up to December 31, 2021. We started selling these open tickets from last month on our social media platforms. There is engagement, but no sales.”
Senior minister (security cluster) Ismail Sabri Yaakob has advised Malaysians to continue staying at home throughout the CMCO period, unless to attend to urgent matters, as the battle against Covid-19 is not yet over.
At press time, nine of 13 states in Malaysia are not following or fully adhering with the federal government’s move to ease conditions and allowing businesses to resume.
The Star Online reported on May 4 that Kedah, Sabah, Sarawak, Pahang, Penang and Kelantan have decided not to follow the move while Selangor, Perak and Negri Sembilan said it would limit the number of businesses allowed to resume operations and restrict dine-ins at restaurants and sports and recreational activities.
Douglas Uggah, deputy chief minister of Sarawak, said the state will remain status quo until it has studied the implications of reopening economic activities, after which it will announce in stages which activities and sectors would be allowed to reopen.
Meanwhile, the chief minister of Kedah, Mukhriz Mahathir, said the state would not implement the CMCO until it has been discussed at the state security working committee meeting on Covid-19 on Tuesday.
Penang will only allow selected sectors to reopen from May 8 under the CMCO. Until then, the MCO remains intact.
During a media briefing on Saturday, the Health Ministry reported 105 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the total number of infections to 6,176, while the death toll remained at 103.