State govts cannot impose own regulations

Any legal or enforcement action can only be taken if the law is gazetted and approved under Act 342, minister says

by S BIRRUNTHA/ pic by ARIF KARTONO

STATE governments are not allowed to impose their own regulations on social and business activities without referring to the special ministerial meeting on the Movement Control Order (MCO).

Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said some states are making their own decisions on business operations and cancelling social activities.

He added that the government understands every state’s concerns with the current pandemic, but they do not have the right to do so and the decisions can be challenged in court.

“When a state government introduces a new law, which is not approved by the Health Ministry (MoH) and the National Security Council (NSC) then the said law cannot be enforced.

“For example, the police will only act based on orders issued by the federal government,” he said in his press conference yesterday.

He noted that legal action will only be taken in the state if the law is gazetted and approved under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342).

Ismail Sabri added that this also applies to the state governments that are not under Enhanced MCO, in which the authority is still under the purview of the federal government.

He cited the recent decision by the Penang government to bar the entry of medical tourists due to the re-emergence of Covid-19 cases in the state, adding that such regulations may only be implemented with the MoH’s approval.

Meanwhile, Ismail Sabri said the government does not plan to lower the compound of RM1,000, as there are many people still breaching the Recovery MCO regulations.

He added that the compound is intended to protect individuals and the surrounding communities, instead of burdening them.

“So far, there are still many who disobey the order. If no compound is imposed, there may be more who do not comply with the regulations.

“However, the compounded individual has the right to appeal for reduction, but the right to reduce the amount depends on MoH,” he said.

The senior minister also noted that the government will not compromise with individuals who violate the standard operating procedures (SOPs).

On another note, Ismail Sabri said sports and co-curricular activities for school students will be allowed effective Sept 1.

He said this includes the implementation of contact sports and co-curricular activities for the subjects of Physical and Health Education and Sports Science subject under strict conditions.

“The SOPs include a capacity limit for the shower and changing rooms, and physical distancing of one to three metres for static activities and three to five metres for dynamic activities.

“However, these activities must comply with the guidelines prepared by the NSC, MoH, Education Ministry, and Youth and Sports Ministry,” he added.

Additionally, Ismail Sabri said the government has also approved the guidelines for the teaching of technical and vocational subjects, which will involve 89 vocational colleges, and certain secondary and technical secondary schools.

The full SOPs, which will be made available online from Sept 1, will include a limit on the number of students based on room size and the frequent cleaning and sanitising of equipment.

Meanwhile, a school in Kulim, Kedah, has been ordered to close after four new cases, involving a teacher and three students, were found to be linked to the Tawar Cluster.

Health DG Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said MoH has screened and tested other students in the school and sanitisation has been done.

“We have taken all the possible action to curb the spread. I hope that within a week or two we will be able to contain the infection in that area,” he said in his Covid-19 press conference yesterday.

The country recorded seven new Covid-19 cases yesterday with four import cases and three local transmissions, bringing the country’s overall total to 9,219.

Currently, 192 active cases are being treated at health facilities nationwide with eight in the intensive care unit and two requiring respiratory aid.

Twenty-six patients recovered yesterday, increasing the total recovered cases in the country to 8,902, or 96.6% of the total cases. The country’s death tally remained at 125.

Dr Noor Hisham said a family gathering that did not fully comply with the SOPs contributed to the Tawar cluster cases.

As of noon yesterday, 47 cases were detected in the Tawar cluster with 1,490 people having undergone screening.

Meanwhile, Dr Noor Hisham said hospital visitations might be the cause for the Sala cluster as the index case had a history of visiting patients at a hospital with several other family members.

For this cluster, there were eight cases from 635 people screened.

“There is a big possibility that both clusters could have been prevented if everyone followed the 3C rule — avoiding crowded places, confined spaces and close conversations,” Dr Noor Hisham said.