Malaysia goes into temporary lockdown
With the country registering the highest number of COVID-19 infections in South-east Asia, Malaysia will be putting into effect the Movement Control Order on March 18. Besides prohibiting Malaysians from leaving the country, residents who return from overseas will have to go through health checks and be subjected to a 14-day self-quarantine.
Acknowledging the severity of the measures, Prime Minister Muhyiddin said, “Drastic action has to be taken so that we can curb the spread of this virus by limiting people’s movements. This is one of the ways that we can stop more Malaysians from being infected by this disease.
In addition to the travel restrictions that will be put in place until March 31, public gatherings and movements across Malaysia will be banned. These include religious and sporting events, as well as social and cultural activities, while all schools and higher learning institutions will also be closed.
Except for those involved in essential services such as water, electricity, telecommunications, transport, oil, petrol, safety and defence, all businesses and firms are expected to cease operations during this period.
“All places of worship and business premises must be closed, except for supermarkets, grocery stores and convenience stores selling everyday necessities,” Muhyiddin added. He also called for calm and restrain during the enforcement of the Movement Control Order, assuring Malaysians that food and daily necessities are in sufficient supply.
Malaysia’s lockdown mirrors those imposed by countries severely impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. Italy has already banned mass movements and gatherings across the country, while French President Emmanuel Macron has urged residents to stay at home unless it was to buy groceries, travel to work, exercise or for medical care.