KUALA LUMPUR, March 24 — Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador clarified today that police officers were not requiring the public to wear face masks outside but were only advising them to do so for the safety of frontline workers.
While health authorities and the government have already said masks were not required, Malaysians have continued to complain that they were being told to wear them by security personnel enforcing the movement control order (MCO).
Malay Mail contacted the IGP for his clarification on the complaints.
“No compulsion. Just advice. It is also for my men’s safety on the ground when communicating,” he told Malay Mail in a text message.
Yesterday Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob already said there was no requirement for the public to wear face masks and any supermarkets that impose such rules to their customers were not acting under any government directive.
In an immediate response, Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) also cancelled today its order from two days ago that made it compulsory for face masks to be used by everyone including customers in supermarkets and restaurants here.
Health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah again clarified yesterday that one should only wear a face mask if they show symptoms or deals with patients in the healthcare sector, and not obligatory in public for the rest.
Responding to persisting confusion over conflicting statements and guidelines over the need for mask wearing in public including by security authorities, Dr Noor Hisham explained that social distancing is more than enough in general.
After the government announced a nationwide movement control order beginning March 18, a number of Malaysians have found themselves repeatedly instructed by the authorities to don a face mask and some have been barred from entering supermarkets to shop for groceries without one.
This naturally led to confusion, paranoia and frustration among Malaysians amid the shortages of face masks in the country as one could be publicly shamed for not donning one in public.
According to a World Health Organisation advisory uploaded on their website, mask wearing should only be limited if one is coughing, sneezing or taking care of a person suspected with Covid-19 infection.
It added that masks were only effective when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.