KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 15 — The wearing of face masks is only compulsory in crowded public places, said Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

Admitting that there was still confusion on the wearing of face masks as part of the Covid-19 standard operating procedure (SOP), he said it was not necessary if one was alone and practised physical distancing.

“There are many public places including parks, but if you are alone there is no need to wear a mask because it is only compulsory in crowded public places. In crowded markets, buses and LRT, it is a must to wear face masks.

“But if you are alone or there is physical distancing between those present, for example in restaurants, it is not necessary to wear masks. You can’t eat with your mask on,” he told a news conference on the Recovery movement control order (RMCO) here today.


Ismail Sabri made this clarification after viral social media report of an individual who was summoned for not wearing a face mask although he was alone in a public area. 

Beginning August 1, the wearing of face masks was made compulsory in crowded public places, and offenders are liable to a RM1,000 fine under Act 342 (Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988).

Meanwhile, Ismail Sabri urged local authorities to be firm by withdrawing the licences of owners of entertainment outlets who still refused to abide by the SOP.


He said there had been arrests involving entertainment centres almost daily although many reminders and notices had been issued.

“The government order is clear, that is night clubs and entertainment centres are not allowed to resume operations yet and are still under the prohibited list,” he added.

He also said the National Security Council had agreed in principle to a suggestion from the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry on the reopening of tourism activities especially outdoors like at Zoo Negara and Legoland.

On SOP enforcement, he said police arrested 201 individuals for various violations including not wearing face masks and not practising physical distancing, and all had been issued compound fines.

He said 14 illegal immigrants were also arrested yesterday under the nationwide Op Benteng. — Bernama