Are we emotionally ready for MCO to end?

The RMCO is a stage where we must relearn how to take care of ourselves, and it is a bit unnerving


WE WERE “freed” yesterday on the first day of the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO).

Thanks to frontliners working tirelessly around the clock, and the general public’s compliance to the stay-home and social distancing orders since March 18 have seen the country record only two new Covid-19 cases yesterday — the lowest to date.

Under the RMCO, roadblocks are lifted, most businesses are reopening, and sports and recreational activities are allowed, albeit with a few new standard operating procedures.

As much as we are looking forward to that badly needed haircut, to sit at the mamak past 10pm, or to “balik kampung” for a delayed Hari Raya celebration with our loved ones, some are showing signs of anxiety about finally stepping out of their Movement Control Order (MCO) cocoons.

Neighbours, especially in urban areas who might not even know each other’s names prior to the pandemic, have forged strong friendships since the beginning of the MCO.

They brought groceries for the elderly, alerted each other when Gardenia breads were restocked, exchanged recipes, jump-started neighbours’ cars and simply kept each other company through Facebook groups and communities.

Those who discovered mutual interests started group discussions on their hobbies like books, gardening and soap making via Zoom. These were reminders that nobody was alone.

When the government announced the gradual relaxation of the MCO, some were worried that once everybody goes back to their “old normal” lives, the bond that they formed would be broken and forgotten.

One Facebook user thanked his neighbours for helping him keep his spirits up during the MCO. Not only his new business was halted, but he lives alone and far from his family, which took a toll on him — mentally and emotionally.

“The MCO brought us closer. When it comes to an end, it does not mean that our friendships do, too,” he posted in his community’s Facebook group, garnering comments from fellow members who promised that they would continue to take care of each other.

And taking care of each other is a must. Doctors, nurses, the police and army have passed the baton to us. Our beloved frontliners are now the last line of defence.

For three months, they were our babysitters, endangering themselves while we safely played with recipes at home.

The RMCO is a stage where we must relearn how to take care of ourselves, and it is a bit unnerving.

While we complained about cabin fever and the itch to walk outdoors freely again, we did not realise how domesticated we have become.

Are we ready? Can we trust ourselves to maintain social distancing, to not shake hands, to refrain from hugging, to sanitise after visiting our favourite pisang goreng stall?

Maybe, some of us just do not know how to go out anymore. Where did we go before the MCO, what did we do? Do we even remember the way to the office or our regular hangout spots?

According to KPMG Malaysia’s survey, 69% of 3,022 respondents wanted to continue working from home even after movement restrictions are lifted.

Another survey by Ipsos found that Malaysians are still anxious about moving on and adapting to a new way of living.

“There is still reluctance and uncertainty in the air. Malaysians need to look at how to embrace the new normal of everyday life, as well as continue to contribute to the economic recovery,” the research firm said.

Is this apprehension just a phase that we would eventually get over, or would the lingering fear of Covid-19 bring us cowering back to the comfort of our homes, and we continue to experience life through the screens of technology?

Farezza Hanum Rashid is the assistant news editor of The Malaysian Reserve.