MCO may return if social distancing rules not observed

Crowds have been spotted at food stalls and children are brought to supermarkets for grocery shopping, says senior minister

by ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN/ pic by BERNAMA

THE current easing of partial lockdown measures can be reversed if all the guidelines on social distancing are not observed, Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said.

In his daily briefing yesterday, Ismail Sabri said many still paid no heed to social distancing rules a week after curbs were lifted under the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO).

He said crowds had been spotted at food stalls and children were brought to supermarkets for grocery shopping.

“Let me remind the public firstly that Act 342 is still in force. Secondly, the health guidelines are in place to prevent a spike in new Covid-19 infections.

“If these rules are not observed, we may see a reversal. It is not impossible to reintroduce the MCO,” Ismail Sabri said.

The CMCO, which allows most businesses to re-open from May 4, was announced by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin after more than six weeks under partial lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The CMCO is scheduled to end on June 9.

Malaysia has kept new cases to double digits for nearly a month since mid-April, save for a slight three-digit uptick on May 2 and 3, with 6,742 confirmed cases and 109 deaths as of yesterday.

New clusters involving migrant workers at construction sites have been identified recently.

Statistics based on nationwide checks carried out by the Construction Industry Development Board Malaysia between April 20 and May 11 showed that out of 3,362 sites, only 9% or 282 sites met CMCO requirements.

About 88% or 2,962 sites were warned for failure to comply with health rules, while two building sites were forced to shut down.

Ismail Sabri said the police now have authority to take legal action against those who do not adhere to standard operating procedures set under the CMCO.

Under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342), those convicted can be fined with a sum of not more than RM1,000 or imprisoned by not more than six months or both.

Ismail Sabri announced that the Enhanced MCO (EMCO) in Selayang Baru, Gombak, has been extended for a second time until further notice. The EMCO was first imposed on April 25.

He said the extended lockdown is to allow Health Ministry officials to conduct Covid-19 testing on all residents in the area.

“The lockdown will probably take another two to three days. From there, we will announce the end date of the EMCO in Selayang Baru,” he said.

The EMCO in Selayang Baru was initially supposed to be lifted on May 3, but was extended to May 12 before yesterday’s announcement.

The EMCO in Selayang and Pusat Bandar Utara has been lifted after tests for the virus were conducted on all residents.