KUALA LUMPUR, 24 March – Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) has retracted its previous directive to wear face masks at stores, restaurants, and markets, amid a nationwide shortage of protective gear during the coronavirus outbreak.
The city council announced today that all licensed owners, workers, visitors, buyers, and suppliers are now “encouraged” to wear face masks and to provide or use hand sanitisers.
“As such the notice for the bill on compliance of instruction 1/2020 dated March 22, 2020 is cancelled,” said DBKL.
The authority also advised the public to respect the one-metre social distancing strategy to avoid infection.
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah yesterday told the public not to wear face masks unless they have respiratory problems like cough and flu.
“Please do not use the mask unless you have to. The masks and PPE (personal protective equipment) should be reserved for the frontline workers. That’s our first priority, more so when we are running short of PPE now. Order placements have been made,” he tweeted.
The lack of face masks has sent the public on a desperate spree to make do with various, some unhygienic, measures in order to get their grocery shopping done.
Bangsar’s Village Grocer recently implemented the ‘no mask, no entry’ rule, barring customers without masks from entering its premise.
But with no stock of masks, some Village Grocer visitors reportedly waited in line to re-use the same mask of their friends once they were done with grocery shopping.
This incident was posted in The Republic of Bangsar #TROB Facebook group by Meera Murugesan yesterday, who said that the security staff of the grocery store informed customers that the strategy was according to guidelines by the Ministry of Health.
“Does that sound like good infection control? And please village grocer don’t tell me these are guidelines from the Ministry of Health. That’s what your security staff were informing customers. MOH guidelines call for obviously sick people to be wearing masks or to stay at home,” she posted.
She further called upon the grocer to sanitise trolleys and provide masks for customers.
“Your job as a supermarket is to sanitise your trolleys, which by the way your staff were not doing. And people re-using disposable masks day after day to enter your premises because they don’t have any on hand is not doing you any favours either. It’s only going to make things worse. How about you as a large supermarket provide masks for your customers?” she continued.
In Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, Lembah Pantai, where Bangsar is located, is one of the hotspots for Covid-19 infections, with the second-highest number of cases at 90 as at March 21. Petaling Jaya took up the top spot in the region with a total of 95 cases during the same period.