Even If MCO Ends, Mass Gatherings Still Barred: Defence Minister

The Cabinet has yet to discuss whether to extend the MCO beyond April 14.

KUALA LUMPUR, April 9 — Putrajaya has not yet decided if the Movement Control Order (MCO) will extend beyond April 14, as this depends on the Health Ministry’s advice, Ismail Sabri Yaakob said today.

The senior defence minister said, however, that even if the nationwide partial lockdown is lifted next Tuesday, it does not mean that people will be allowed to move freely amid the Covid-19 epidemic.

“The government will make an announcement after getting advice from the Ministry of Health (MOH),” Ismail Sabri told a press conference.

“As of today, like normal, the MCO will be continued until April 14, unless there’s an announcement. I don’t know if there’s an announcement or not; it’s up to MOH,” he said, adding that the Cabinet has yet to discuss the issue.

The government previously said that it would decide tomorrow on whether to extend the MCO.

“Even if the MCO is lifted, the people cannot move freely like before. Certain SOP (standard operating procedures) must be followed. Mass gatherings will not be allowed, even if the MCO ends. There was a suggestion about convocations just now — that also we will prohibit. Whatever activities that gather a large group of people at a time will not be allowed.”

The senior defence minister said authorities would discuss tomorrow new SOPs for the various Covid-19 zones in the country that have been delineated into hotspots and areas with fewer cases.

He added that the Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO) in Simpang Renggam, Kluang, Johor — a total lockdown where people are not allowed to leave their homes — would be extended until next Tuesday.

“We’ve agreed to extend it for four more days to resolve a few matters that are still under action.”

MOH reported 24 red zones in Malaysia as of noon today, or areas with more than 40 coronavirus cases. The latest hotspot is Kuantan, Pahang.

The districts with the most Covid-19 cases are Lembah Pantai, Kuala Lumpur (417 cases), Hulu Langat, Selangor (361 cases), and Petaling, Selangor (318 cases). All districts in Kuala Lumpur are coronavirus hotspots with 41 cases and above.

All other states have at least one red zone, except for Kedah, Penang, and Terengganu.

MOH has also reported 17 orange zones (districts with 20 to 40 cases) in Kedah, Penang, Terengganu, Selangor, Melaka, Pahang, Johor, and Sabah.

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