KUALA LUMPUR, March 17 — Malaysia will effectively be pausing all non-essential activities for two weeks from tomorrow (March 18) until March 31 to stop the spread of the Covid-19 virus, but what do we know so far?
Here is a quick summary of everything that you need to know, based on news reports and Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s late-night announcement yesterday of the government’s nationwide movement control order:
1. When is the government’s order to control movement taking effect again?
Tomorrow (March 18) which is a Wednesday, until March 31 which is a Tuesday. This period includes two weekends.
2. What will be temporarily closed or stopped?
This order covers the whole of Malaysia, with a ban on public gatherings including for any religious, sports, social and cultural events.
So all places of worship and all business premises will have to close except for supermarkets, sundry goods stores, markets and other places selling daily necessities or things that people would need for their day-to-day lives.
The government yesterday also announced separately that all activities at mosques and suraus will be suspended for 10 days until March 26.
All pre-schools, public and private schools including boarding schools, international schools, tahfiz centres, primary, secondary and pre-university institutions, all public and private universities and skills training institutes will also have to close for two weeks.
In short, to be closed: Non-essential businesses and services, all religious places, all educational places.
3. What will stay open?
Only this list of essential services will continue to operate during the two-week period starting from tomorrow: water, electricity, telecommunications, postal, transportation, irrigation, oil and gas, fuel, lubricants, broadcast, financial, banking, health, pharmacies, fire and rescue services, prison services, ports, airports, security, defence, cleaning, sundry goods and food supply.
All other non-essential government and private premises will have to close temporarily.
In short, to stay open: Essential services.
4. Keep calm
The government says there is no need to panic. Why? Because there will be enough supplies, as the prime minister has assured.
Muhyiddin yesterday guaranteed that there will be sufficient supplies of food, daily necessities and healthcare goods including face masks, saying that the government will always monitor the supply levels in the market throughout these two weeks.
“Buy what is necessary, stop what is unnecessary, and we will ensure that food is available for you at all times,” he said earlier yesterday in response to Malaysians’ panic buying, assuring that there was no need to rush and no need to “worry so much”.
5. Travelling out banned
The government’s order to control movement says all Malaysians cannot travel abroad, with those who returned from overseas to undergo health checks and self-quarantine for 14 days.
Tourists and foreigners are not allowed to enter Malaysia during these two weeks.
6. Why do we need this two-week order?
In short, to curb the spread of Covid-19, which can be fatal in some cases.
The announcement of this order takes place just as 162,711 persons tested positive in 135 countries with 6,443 of these now dead, while Malaysia now has 511 confirmed cases and with 42 fully recovered and zero fatalities so far.
Muhyiddin acknowledged that Malaysians may be inconvenienced and face difficulties because of this two-week order, but said the government must implement this and cannot afford to wait longer until the situation worsens.
“This is the only way for us to prevent more of this country’s citizens from being infected with the disease that can snatch lives,” he said of this drastic step to restrict movement for two weeks.
“I hope you can be patient in facing this trial. Don’t panic, don’t be anxious, and always stay calm,” he added.
He said other countries which have taken drastic steps to combat Covid-19, such as China, had experienced a sharp decline in the rate of infections.
Even before this two-week order, the government had previously already urged for the postponement of mass gatherings, and had already advised Malaysians to practise social distancing or staying at least one metre apart from each other to help slow the spread of Covid-19.
7. Will there be more details?
Malay Mail understands that the National Security Council is expected to give further details on the government’s order to restrict movement amid Covid-19.
Muhyiddin last night said he will personally chair the National Security Council’s daily meetings to monitor the Covid-19 situation in Malaysia, with Malaysians to be given further updates from time to time.
He said that anyone with questions about this order can contact the hotline of 03-88882010 from noon today.