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FAQ: 10 Questions you might be having about the Movement Control Order in Malaysia

FAQ: 10 Questions you might be having about the Movement Control Order in Malaysia

“Means what ah?”

Text: Rachel Au


Image: Unsplash / Ishan @seefromthesky

Following the concerning rise of COVID-19 cases in Malaysia, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has announced a nationwide movement control order but locals are still left with some unanswered questions

 

 

UPDATED ON 25 MARCH 2020:

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has just announced in his latest address that the Movement Control Order will be extended to 14 April 2020. With the latest total COVID-19 cases standing at 1,796 today, the decision was made after observing the high increase of cases in just one week. He added, "Please stay calm and don't panic. Even though we have extended the Movement Control Order, you don't have to unneccessarily stock up on food because the supply is sufficient."

For the latest COVID-19 updates in Malaysia, head over here.

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At the time of writing this article, the number of positive COVID-19 cases in Malaysia stand at 553; a number that was sharply increased due to the recent religious gathering at Masjid Sri Petaling. As such—after countless rumours of #MalaysiaLockdown and public concern—the Prime Minister of Malaysia Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced on the night of March 17 that there will be a nationwide movement control order, from March 18 till 31. Essentially, it means the following:

 

 

Beyond that, Malaysians still have several questions. Here are the answers that we managed to find:

 

1. "So... basically, Malaysia is under lockdown?"

The most important question of all and the answer is no. It's not even a partial lockdown; though it's true the country is under lockdown in the sense that we're not allowing foreign tourists/visitors and Malaysians aren't allowed to leave the country.

 

 

Some consider the term "restricted movement" misleading.

 

 

If anything, it's social distancing at a large, legal scale.

 

What's different is that people in Malaysia are technically allowed to head out to buy supplies and essentials. There is no curfew. It is not a state of emergency. According to MalaysiaKini, former health minister Dzulkefly Ahmad described it as "a form of social distancing that can 'flatten the epidemic curve'".

"This is nothing like a lockdown at all. A lockdown is when you can't leave your home, there's a total curfew, you can't go out to buy food," he added.

 

2. "Does that mean we don't have to go to work?"

Technically, all businesses except "essential services" are to be closed. This list includes: "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," according to MalayMail.

The news site continued: "All other non-essential government and private premises will have to close temporarily." But just to be sure, our advice is to check with the HR department of your companies. If you're still required to go to work, the Health Ministry has released a nifty infographic on how to practise social distancing at your workplace:

 

 

3. "Can I still order Grab or tapao food? Because what if I cannot cook?"

As mentioned, "food supply" services will remain open, and yes, that includes restaurants—except for those that decide to temporarily close. Most restaurants (even kopitiams) will be disallowing dine-in customers but feel free to tapao or bungkus makan. Grab has also released a statement on their Facebook that all their services will continue to operate during the two-week period.

 

And if you're not sure how to cook, here are: 5 Fun and easy recipes to try at home with 5 ingredients or less.

 

4. "Can I just order my groceries online?"

Grocery stores will remain open but for the sake of convenience, you can consider ordering online though some places have seen a spike in online orders. Fret not, this only means your orders will be delivered slightly later in the week. Some of the sites you can try include HappyFresh, MyGroser Jaya Grocer, and Tesco.

On another note, Jaya Grocer, however, has been praised for extending special hours for the elderly. Mydin too has announced that senior citizens and disabled people can access Mydin stores half-an-hour earlier, at 7.30am, starting tomorrow.

As mentioned in the press conference, please refrain from panic buying as supermarkets will continue to stock the shelves every day. Convenience stores and wet markets will be open as well. Buy what you need and leave some for the rest of your fellow Malaysians and locals. Be kind to the elderly and children. Be patient. We're all in this together.

 

5. "I work in Singapore and travel every day from Malaysia. What now?"

The state government of Johor will be having a special meeting to discuss this. We'll update this as soon as we know.

Meanwhile, the MalayMail reports that "Singapore is helping companies there arrange accommodation for their Malaysian employees during Malaysia's two-week travel ban over the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) beginning tomorrow, Singapore's Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said today." He added, "Companies who need help for their workers accommodation can contact our economic agencies and also work with their trade associations."

However, not all details are available yet as they await Malaysian authorities to work out the operational details.

UPDATE 2:20pm: "Starting tomorrow, all Malaysians working in Singapore and Thailand will be prohibited from commuting to the countries," said Immigration Department director-general Datuk Khairul Dzaimee Daud.

UPDATE 4:50pm: In the meantime, Singapore's Ministry of Manpower has released a statement suggesting companies to encourage Malaysian workers to stay with family, friends or even colleagues—those that would be willing to accommodate them for a short period. Alternatively, the Singapore government says they have worked with private and public sectors to offer a range of short-term housing options, ranging from hotels to dormitories to HDB flats. They'll be working with these providers to provide lower cost rentals. More info can found here:

Ministry of Manpower (SG)

Application form: https://form.gov.sg

Online enquiry: www.mom.gov.sg/feedback

Website: www.mom.gov.sg

 

6. "Since I don't have to go to the office... can I balik kampung or go cuti-cuti Malaysia?"

Infectious diseases expert Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman tells MalaysiaKini that this defeats the purpose of the restricted movement order and that people should stay where they are. The point of the order is to limit human contact and curb the spread of the virus. "It is not a curfew order, but just a restriction on movement. Just stay home and go out when it is permissible. The message is clear, reduce movement to the minimum possible to deactivate COVID-19," Prof Datuk Dr Nasarudin Mohammed tells Bernama.

 

7. "Does the Extra Economic Stimulus Package 2020 has anything to do with me? Can I claim anything?"

This infographic probably explains it best. There is, however, financial aid for workers who are forced to take unpaid leave.

 

8. "Can I still go out to exercise?"

Most boutique gyms have announced their compliance with the Movement Restriction Order and even ClassPass has sent out an email stating that all unused credits will be rolled over. No credits will expire before June 1, 2020. As mentioned, this order is essentially to minimise human contact so going out for a run or walk is still allowed (remember: not a curfew)—just not with company.

UPDATE: The public is discouraged from going outside unless necessary. If you're looking to stay fit while in isolation, we've put together a useful guide here.

 

9. "I need to use public transport to get around—will the trains and buses still be operating?"

"The Kelana Jaya and Ampang/Sri Petaling LRT lines, Sungai Buloh-Kajang MRT, Monorail, Sunway Bus Rapid Transit, and all Rapid KL, Rapid Penang, Rapid Kuantan, Rapid Kamunting, and Rapid Manjunb bus lines will operate as usual," said Prasarana group chief operating officer Muhammad Nizam Alias in a statement.

 

10. "Can I still proceed with my wedding reception/ceremony?"

According to the Prime Minister's Office, wedding receptions and the like are not allowed as it constitutes as a "social gathering". It is against the law and failure to comply will be liable to two (2) years in prison, a fine or both.

UPDATE 3:46pm: In a new FAQ released by the National Security Council (NSC), it now states that "marriage ceremonies are allowed to be conducted in small numbers, while funeral services are only to be handled by the closest relatives."

 

 

Let us know if you have other questions. Till then, take care. Wash your hands and don't touch your face.

 

 

 

Further questions can be directed to the hotline announced by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin at 03-88882010 from noon today.

 

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