KUALA LUMPUR, April 23 — The government has extended the Movement Control Order (MCO) from April 28 till May 12, but may reopen more businesses and, if Covid-19 cases drop significantly, perhaps social sectors too.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin also announced today that an estimated 100,000 university students who have been staying on campus for over a month would be allowed to return to their hometowns soon.
Students must be free of Covid-19 symptoms before they are allowed to go back home to their families, while authorities will plan their travel carefully.
Muhyiddin also said those who travelled to their hometowns more than a month ago before the MCO began on March 18 would be allowed to return to their residence in the city, but they must ensure they do not have coronavirus symptoms.
He urged them to register online for their one-time travel permit or make appointments at their local police station for registration.
“At this time, the government will study the latest data by the Ministry of Health (MOH) to determine the next step,” Muhyiddin told a national address.
“I do not reject the possibility that the MCO may be further extended after this. This means that you may not be able to celebrate Hari Raya in your hometowns. You still may not be able to work, except those working in permitted sectors. Businesses still can’t be fully opened.”
He said several economic sectors have already been opened and that the government would consider reopening other sectors and sub-sectors, subject to tight conditions that prioritise worker safety, social distancing, and cleanliness in the workplace.
“This is to ensure that companies remain competitive and workers can continue working in a safe environment. Detailed guidelines and conditions will be given to investors and the corporate sectors to restart company operations respectively.”
The PM added, however, that if Covid-19 cases continued registering a “significant” decline, after a straight week of daily increases below 100, “the government will likely loosen movement controls by stages in a few sectors, including social sectors”.
“This is to enable you to live a more comfortable life. The National Security Council is drafting a comprehensive plan on this matter.”
He also said the government was crafting an economic revival plan for the short-term and medium-term to ensure that the economy recovers quickly after the MCO ends.
“We still haven’t won the war against Covid-19,” said Muhyiddin.
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said earlier today that MOH would brief Muhyiddin over the next few days about the Covid-19 epidemiological trend and progress on MOH’s six conditions in lifting the MCO.
MOH’s six criteria in lifting the nationwide partial lockdown are border controls to prevent imported Covid-19 cases; movement control, like banning mass gatherings; a strong health care system with sufficient beds and ventilators; protection of the vulnerable, like senior citizens, disabled people, cancer patients, and those with underlying health conditions; new behaviours practiced by the people, like social distancing and frequent hand-washing; and controlling Covid-19 clusters through community preventive measures.