- Conditional reopening of socioeconomic sectors on 4 May 2020
- Social, public and cultural events are still not allowed
- Educational institutions to remain closed
- SOPs and details of unauthorised businesses are on the MKN website
- Authorised businesses are allowed to operate with strict conditions
- Public transport companies must be prepared for crowds
- Alternating work schedules and working from home are encouraged
Last week, Malaysian Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced that the MCO will be extended to 12 May 2020 [UPDATE: the MCO, specifically the CMCO (see below) has been extended once more to 9 June 2020]. In light of the seemingly loosening grip of COVID-19 in the country over the past several days, he stood behind the lectern at 11am today to inform about the gradual – and strictly conditional – resumption of certain socioeconomic sectors on Monday, 4 May 2020 in order to kick-start the revival of the economy (according to him, the country has lost an estimated RM63 billion since the MCO was put in place on 18 March 2020, some RM2.4 billion a day). He termed it Conditional MCO (CMCO), and here are the main takeaways from his speech.
Social, public and cultural events are still not allowed
These include public gatherings such as feasts, open houses, breaking fast in large groups, concerts, cultural performances, ceremonies as well as all forms of government and private assemblies. Religious activities such as religious parades, Friday prayers and all other congregation or assembly activities at mosques, prayer rooms and houses of worship are also not permitted.
Unnecessary cross-border travel is also not permitted
This MCO rule is still in place, except for the purpose of attending work and returning home after being stranded in the village or elsewhere. Cross-country trips back to the village during the Aidilfitri holidays are not allowed.
Schools, colleges and institutions of higher learning are to remain closed
For the moment, all education institutions are not be opened.
SOPs and details of unauthorised businesses or activities are on the MKN website
A complete list of unauthorised businesses or activities can be found on the Majlis Keselamatan Negara (MKN) [National Security Council] website as well as their social media pages – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Telegram. This list will be reviewed from time to time depending on the development of COVID-19 infections in Malaysia.
Authorised businesses and sectors are allowed to operate with strict conditions
Apart from the the unauthorised, all business, industry, public, and social sectors are allowed to operate subject to the current rules, regulations and health SOPs set by the authorities. These SOPs include social distancing, frequent washing and sanitising of the hands, using face masks, and reporting to the Health Department immediately if there are cases of COVID-19 infections.
*An example of the how the SOP works can be found at the bottom of the page.
Public transport companies must be prepared
From 4 May 2020 onwards, the number of public transport users will increase. In order to control the transmission of COVID-19, congestion at bus stations, LRTs, MRTs and so on must be avoided. Operators of public transport companies must take action to control the movement of the public. To help avoid congestion at public transport stations and in public vehicles, Tan Sri Muhyiddin recommends that all business employers carry out flexible working hours. Not all employees must come to work at the same time to prevent everyone from rushing to the office and then home at the same time. He also advises all public transport users to protect themselves by wearing proper masks and sanitising their hands when needed.
Employers must check the temperature of their workers daily
In the workplace, employers must check employee temperatures on a daily basis. If a high temperature is detected, the employee is advised to return home or go to the clinic immediately.
Keep clean and safe
Employees must make sure that their desk, chairs and utensils used in the office are kept clean. They should avoid close contact or body contact with their colleagues. Tan Sri Muhyiddin stresses that the important thing to do is keep yourself clean and safe.
Alternating working schedules are encouraged
Employers should look at the possibility of arranging alternate working day schedules, so employees can work at the office and from home on different days. This can also benefit parents of young children as they can arrange their schedules so one parent remains at home each day. Although childcare centres will be opened by adopting specific conditions, this would indirectly reduce the number of children sent to centres and make it easier for caregivers to care for these children in accordance with the prescribed health SOPs.
Work from home if possible
The government encourages civil servants to work from home except for work processes that require the use of office space or equipment. Meetings are also encouraged to be held online using a secure medium. For those who have difficulty caring for the children at home, the government allows workers to rotate in addition to working overtime. Tan Sri Muhyiddin indicated that such practices be used in other sectors, saying, “In fact, even when all sectors of the economy are open, all employers can encourage workers to work from home. This is a new norm that we must adopt. Talk to employees. Any task you can do at home, do at home. It’s better.”
Download contact-tracing apps
If there are cases of COVID-19 symptoms at work or in a residential area, report it to the authorities immediately. In combating COVID-19, contact tracing is very important. Health officials should know who has been close to the person who has been positively identified for COVID-19. To facilitate contact-tracing, the government has implemented two apps called MySejahtera (Apple / Android) and MyTrace (Apple [TBA] / Android).
*Tan Sri Muhyiddin’s example of how the SOP works
Starting 4 May 2020, Salleh can reopen his restaurant for dine-in services. So in these two days, Salleh could go to the restaurant to clean the premises, wash the dishes, spoons, pots and other cooking utensils, arrange desks and chairs, and buy stocks of raw goods. He then has to make sure the table is set at least two metres apart from one table to another. This is important so that there is ample walking space for customers and employees, and there is a safe distance between customers who eat there.
To ensure social distancing when customers eat, Salleh can place a notice on each table so that only one person, two or three people allowed to eat depending on the size of the table. If it’s a small table, one or two people may be allowed. If the table is large, maybe three or four. This is Salleh’s decision.
He also has to mark queue lines on the floor before the cash register, with the line being at least one metre away from each other. This is to ensure that customers line up correctly when making their payments.
Salleh has to provide a bottle of hand sanitiser at the counter so paying customers can use it to clean their hands. Provide adequate soap and hand-washing facilities. Use adequate table cleaner to clean tabletops. Each time a customer is done eating, employees must clean the table as quickly and thoroughly as possible before the next customer is seated.
Salleh and his employees must make sure they wear face masks all the time. On the first day the restaurant opens, check the body temperature of customers before they are allowed to enter the restaurant using appropriate scanners.
The customers’ names, phone numbers and the date and time they arrive at the restaurant must be recorded. This is important because if there is a positive case of COVID-19 involving one customer, another customer who arrived that day can be detected immediately.
So, there is actually a lot of work awaiting Salleh before he can reopen his restaurant for patronage. All this is important to ensure that no customer of his is infected with COVID-19. Other restaurant owners, food trucks and other food stalls must do the same. If this is all done, customers can come to the restaurant and enjoy a meal safely. If diners are still worried, they can just order their food to go and eat it at the safety of their own home.