MCO violation arrests up 51% to 554 on Sunday

Of the 554 arrested, 489 were detained in prison and 65 were granted bail, as many had the impression that it is okay to go out on a Sunday

by ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN/ pic by RAZAK GHAZALI

FIVE hundred and fifty-four individuals were arrested on Sunday for violating the Movement Control Order (MCO), as people thronged supermarkets across the country to stock up on essentials over the weekend.

Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the figure represented a 51% increase from the 368 arrests made on Saturday.

“I was told that many had the impression that it was okay to go out on a Sunday. The same rule applies every day. Unless there is a critical need to leave the house, everyone must stay at home,” he told reporters yesterday.

Of the 554 arrested, 489 were detained in prison and 65 were granted bail.

This brought the total number of arrests to 6,048 people since the movement curbs were imposed on March 18.

“Every day is a weekend during the MCO period, so please stay at home,” Ismail Sabri added.

Malaysia’s MCO, initially set to end on March 31, was extended by two weeks to curb the spread of Covid-19. Under the MCO, only going out to buy food or medicine is allowed, and only essential services workers may go to the office.

Most shops and businesses that are not deemed essential services have been forced to close.

Shorter operating hours have also been imposed on public transport, restaurants, hypermarkets, petrol stations and food delivery services under phase two of the MCO.

The government also announced a mandatory 14-day quarantine on incoming travellers across all entry points, effective today.

All travellers, both local and international, will serve the two-week quarantine period at designated facilities. This comes as coronavirus cases top over a million worldwide and deaths at about 70,000. Ismail Sabri said the quarantine also applies to the Rohingya who were detained recently after landing in Pulau Langkawi.

“Since they are in our waters, it is our responsibility to look after their interests. They will be quarantined in Pulau Langkawi. The Foreign Ministry, the Immigration Department and National Disaster Management Agency have been assigned to assist them,” he said.

Meanwhile, Malaysians working in Singapore can only return if they have been screened and cleared of Covid-19 by Singaporean health authorities.

“The agreement between both countries is that they can only return after they get approval from the Singapore government.

“They have to get a letter from Singaporean authorities to say that they tested negative for Covid-19. Only then will they be allowed to return,” Ismail Sabri said.

However, both countries are considering making some changes to the rules. The working committee is able to negotiate on the rules set in the initial agreement.

“Hopefully, the Foreign Ministry will announce the new rules, which have been agreed (on) by both the governments tomorrow,” he said yesterday, adding that only three individual workers have crossed the border so far.

The minister also stressed that the National Security Council is the only government agency which can issue directives during the MCO.

All parties, including state governments, must ensure that their policies are in line with the federal government, he said.

It was reported that workshops in several states were allowed to open between 9am and 1pm during the MCO as they were categorised as essential services.

In Selangor, the Petaling Jaya City Council and Shah Alam City Council had both allowed workshops under their jurisdiction to open between 9am and 2pm, while in Perak, the Taiping Municipal Council allowed workshops to remain open until 1pm.