All Businesses And Premises To Close Until March 31
Prime Minister YAB Tan Sri Dato Hj. Muhyiddin Yassin announced today (March 16) that there will be a restricted movement order from March 18 until March 31.
This announcement follows big spikes in confirmed coronavirus cases over the past few days, with 125 new cases were reported on March 16; bringing the tally to 553. As a result, Malaysia is now the country with highest number of cases in Southeast Asia.
Come Wednesday March 18, Malaysians will be subject to a number of restrictions:
- A ban on all mass gatherings throughout the country, including religious, sports, social and cultural activities. To enforce this, all religious premises and businesses should be closed, except groceries, public markets and provision stores.
- Nationwide travel restriction on all Malaysians. Those who have just returned from overseas are required to undergo health checks and self-quarantine for 14 days.
- All foreign tourists and visitors are barred from entry.
- All kindergartens, government schools and private schools including nurseries, residential school and other educational institutions will be closed.
- All public and private institutions of higher learning will be closed.
- All businesses and premises will be closed – except those involved in essential services like banking, electricity, fire, port, dock, airport, postal, prison, lubricants, healthcare, solid waste management, sewerage, broadcasting, telecommunication, transport, water, e-commerce, defense, food, wildlife, immigration, customs, hotels and accommodations. You can access the full list of essential and non-essential services here.
Source: Ministry of Health
Other measures that were announced earlier today included a cash assistance for workers. RM120 million has been allocated to help workers forced to go on unpaid leave from March 1. This will provide a RM600 monthly cash aid to an estimated 33,000 workers, for a maximum of 6 months.
There will also be 2% discount on electricity bills for domestic users, as well as those in commercial, industrial and agriculture sectors. This will begin on April 1 for a period of six months, until September 30. This is expected to involve an allocation of RM500 million.
Malaysians need not panic
Panic buying escalated in major cities today, as fears of a lockdown led Malaysians to stock up on food and essentials. But Tan Sri Muhyiddin said that Malaysians need not panic, as “there is enough food around”. The prime minister said that he has instructed the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry (KPDNKK) to ensure the continuous supplies of essential food items.
“Buy what is necessary, stop what is unnecessary, and we will ensure that food is available for you at all times,” Muhyiddin said.
Additionally, the text of the Prime Minister’s speech refers to this situation as a restricted movement order (Perintah Kawalan Pergerakan), which falls over the provisions of the Police Act 1967 and the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988. As a result, this only limits the movement of Malaysians to essential activities; which means that you are still allowed to go out and shop for groceries.
A full scale lockdown (Perintah Berkurung) would prevent you from even leaving your house, which is not what is happening.
Inconvenient but necessary
To most Malaysians, the restricted movement order will be inconvenient, and may raise other issues.
But the prime minister stressed that it is a necessary action to curb the virus outbreak.
“We cannot wait any longer until things become dire. Such drastic action needed to be made immediately to prevent the spread of the virus by limiting people’s movements,” he said.
Edit: An earlier version of our headline incorrectly referred to restricted movement order as a ‘lockdown’. We apologise for the lack of clarity, and have made amendments.