KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 26 — Despite the government’s lifting of the face mask mandate, many Malaysians still prefer to keep their masks on indoors.
A visit to Mid Valley Megamall and neighbouring Bangsar saw that the majority of shoppers — with the exception of some younger individuals and foreigners — still wearing face masks.
“I think it’s safer to wear a mask because I also don’t know if you have Covid or not, so I’m still worried,” said Jaja, 32.
Jaja added that she and her parents are high-risk so she prefers to take extra steps to protect them.
Tarmizi, 29, shared the same sentiment as Jaja and he still wears his mask although there are no high-risk individuals in his family.
“I want to protect myself from the crowd but to wear or not to wear the face mask is up to the individual,” added Tarmizi.
Neoh Wei Sheng, 21, who was seen wearing a face mask in Bangsar told Malay Mail that he wears it to protect himself from getting infected a second time.
“I think it’s right to lift the face mask mandate because we should not force people and let them decide whether to wear or not to wear.
“For example, they can remove the mask when it’s making them feel uncomfortable,” said Neoh when asked if he agreed that the country should lift the face mask mandate.
He added that he doesn’t feel the presence of Covid-19 as strongly as before since the country has moved into the endemic phase.
“Basically, I don’t feel the pandemic anymore, or we have started to treat it as a normal fever and flu,” said Neoh.
Another interviewee who was also wearing a face mask disagreed with Neoh.
Mazuan, 26, said he can still feel the presence of Covid-19 in his immediate circle because four of his colleagues tested positive this month.
“Just for precaution until things are 100 per cent normal then it’s ok, but right now we still need to wear masks,” he added.
On the other hand, some told Malay Mail they have stopped wearing face masks because they felt uncomfortable and praised the government for lifting the mandate.
“Actually, I don’t like wearing masks because I don’t feel comfortable. I can’t feel air when I’m breathing with my masks,” said Robert Cemba, 27, when approached by Malay Mail.
Cemba said that mask-wearing also caused skin issues, especially rashes behind the ears, adding to the reasons why some people don’t like wearing masks.
When asked if he feels safe if people around him are not wearing masks, he said that one should take the risk to socialise and come to terms with the existence of Covid-19.
A couple from India agreed with Cemba that wearing masks has caused them a lot of discomfort.
“In my country India, it has turned into a flu, if you have the virus then you are like down for three to four days,” said Sampath JM, 62.
Kalpana Sampath, 54, added that it’s also important to do other preventive measures such as exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy diet and practising good hygiene habits to boost our immunity against sickness.
“If you go back home, wash your feet, wash your hands, gargle... these are the things we did many years ago when we were young,” Sampath added.
Earlier this month, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin announced that the wearing of face masks indoors as optional with the exception of public transport and all healthcare facilities.
Khairy said that making masks optional indoors was the natural progression given Malaysia’s high vaccination rate and compliance with SOPS.