KUALA LUMPUR, August 3 — The police will cancel summonses that were issued against people for not wearing face masks in their own vehicles, Ismail Sabri Yaakob said today.
The senior defence minister added that those who have already paid their fines to the Ministry of Health (MOH), after the rule on wearing face coverings in “crowded” public places came into effect on August 1, can claim for a refund.
He stressed that wearing face masks was only mandatory in public transport and in “crowded public areas”, not everywhere outside one’s home.
“If we just say ‘public place’, a football field is a public place. But if there’s social distancing and the field is so large, there’s no need to wear a mask. That’s why we say — crowded public places,” Ismail Sabri told a press conference.
“If the place is crowded, then it’s compulsory because otherwise you may cause infections. But if the space is huge, like at the beach, and you’re sitting alone at the beach, it’s only compulsory to wear if we were to say simply ‘public places’. And that’s why we say ‘crowded public places’.”
Public transport that requires one to wear face coverings include buses, LRT, KTM, taxis, and e-hailing vehicles.
The minister also listed “crowded public places” where one must wear a face mask:
- Public markets, pasar tani, pasar malam, and supermarkets
- Tourist spots
The National Security Council’s (NSC) website has yet to list the standard operating procedures (SOPs) related to face masks, as its “New Norms” SOP still shows an old document dated June 14 that says one is “encouraged to wear a face mask, especially when suffering symptoms like cough, cold, or sore throat”. The Defence Ministry’s corporate communications said the NSC’s website will be updated later.
Ismail Sabri also listed today exemptions to the face mask rule:
- At home
- Private vehicles
- When doing physical activities
- Children aged two years and below
“I am saying — public transport, it’s very clear. Private vehicles are not public transport. If you go out in a car with your family, you don’t need to wear a mask, or if you are carpooling with office mates. If there’s a Covid-19 case, we will know who are your office mates.”
He added that wearing face masks is “encouraged” everywhere, citing health authorities that say a combination of face coverings and physical distancing of at least 1 metre could help prevent Covid-19 infections. But the government is only mandating the use of face masks in “crowded public places”.