KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 20 ― The Malaysian government has published a new and expanded list of returnees who need not pay for their compulsory quarantine if they meet criteria such as being from the B40 income bracket.
In the new government regulations gazetted yesterday, a total of seven categories were listed for returnees exempted from paying the fees for their quarantine at government-designated quarantine centres, including those with disability cards issued under the Persons with Disabilities Act 2008.
The other categories include Malaysians from the B40 group, Malaysian students from households in the B40 band, Malaysian children aged six and below, as well as Malaysian children aged 12 and below who were returning alone.
Also exempted from payment are Malaysians who are parents to, spouses of, or children of another in the B40 band, provided they were returning together.
The seventh and last category is for Malaysians returning to Malaysia immediately upon being released from prison overseas and unable to pay for the cost and expenses at the quarantine station, or has no source of income.
On the definition of B40, the government regulations stated this shall be as determined by the finance minister.
These regulations titled the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Medical Attendance and Maintenance of Person Removed to Quarantine Station) (No. 2) Regulations 2020 were made on August 19 by Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba.
The regulations are stated as being deemed effective on July 24, which is almost a month ago.
The new regulations replace and revoke an earlier set of regulations gazetted on July 24 which had only limited quarantine fee payment exemptions to disability card holders.
What happens if you have to pay, but don’t
In the same regulations, anyone who returns from overseas and is directed to undergo quarantine at a quarantine station is required to pay for any cost and expenses incurred for his medical attendance and maintenance at the quarantine station to the Health Ministry’s secretary-general.
Failure to pay for the quarantine fees is an offence that is punishable upon conviction by a maximum RM1,000 fine or a maximum six-month jail term or both, the regulations state.
Such costs and expenses for the quarantine can be recovered as a civil debt due to the government.
You are not in the exempted list, but...
For those who have returned to Malaysia from abroad but are not in the list exempted from quarantine fee payments, they may still apply to the health minister for “non-payment” of such costs, the new regulations state.
For a Malaysian returnee who takes a Covid-19 test within 14 days of being told to undergo quarantine but with test results not available after the 14th day, the new regulations state that such a person will not have to pay for quarantine fees for the 15th day until the test result is available if this person is directed to remain under quarantine for more than 14 days.
A recap of the situation previously
The Malaysian government had previously made it mandatory from April 3 for all Malaysians returning from abroad to undergo quarantine at government-designated centres for 14 days, and had from June 1 required Malaysians and foreigners to respectively pay half and 100 per cent for accommodation costs if they were quarantined at hotels instead of having the government bear the full cost as was done previously.
After considerable success in flattening the curve or slowing the spread of Covid-19 cases, the Malaysian authorities had on June 10 started allowing Malaysians returning from abroad to undergo the mandatory 14-day quarantine at their own homes instead of government-designated quarantine centres if they test negative upon arrival.
The home quarantine came with rules such as the wearing of a wristband for easy identification and monitoring of their movements through the MySejahtera application, keeping away from family members and not sharing personal items with those in the same household during the quarantine period, and undergoing a Covid-19 test again on the 13th day.
By July 24, the Malaysian government reimposed mandatory quarantine at government-designated quarantine centres for Malaysians and foreigners returning from abroad with the returnees to bear the cost partially, cancelling the home quarantine option due to non-compliance by some of the returnees such as those sighted outside while wearing the wristbands and failure to do daily self-assessments and take the second Covid-19 test on the 13th day.
On August 4, Parliament was told that the government has so far spent RM115.9 million on designated Covid-19 quarantine centres across the country, with the returnees paying a subsidised cost of RM150 per day or RM2,100 for the entire 14-day period while the government bears about half the total cost. The total cost for a 14-day quarantine per person is RM4,700 in a public institution and RM4,100 in a hotel.
On August 10, the government announced that quarantine fees for those at public training institutes will be reduced from RM150 to RM100 per person per day while those at hotels still pay RM150 per day.
The government had also said children aged 12 and below can share the same room as their parent, but with the second individual sharing the room to be charged RM50 per day for meals.
On August 18, the government also approved food deliveries from outside such as fast food to those under quarantine, but with the condition that they indemnify the government from liability if they get food poisoning as a result.
Apart from paying for quarantine fees, Malaysians and foreigners returning to Malaysia from abroad are also required to pay certain fees for the Covid-19 detection tests.