- The MCO is extended to 12 May 2020
- Students at campuses may be allowed to return soon
- Possible one-time travel authorisation for those who want to return home
- Conditional reopening of some sectors of the economy is being contemplated
- Economic revival plans are in the works
On the evening of 23 April 2020, Malaysian Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin delivered a speech to usher in the fasting month of Ramadhan.
In that same address, he also made a major announcement – the Movement Control Order (MCO), which was put in effect on 18 March 2020 to battle COVID-19 and had already been extended twice, will be entering its fourth phase. The following are points taken from his speech.
The MCO was supposed to last until 28 April 2020 with the expiry of its third phase, but the latest phase will push that date back a farther two weeks to 12 May 2020. According to Tan Sri Muhyiddin, there is a possibility the MCO will be extended beyond that date, but the decision to do so will be made based on the situation then [UPDATE: The fifth phase of the order runs from 13 May 2020 until 9 June 2020]. In the meantime, the government will study the data from the Ministry of Health (MOH) to plan its next moves.
Citing the ongoing decline of COVID-19 cases in the country, he said that the government has decided to provide a small dose of leeway.
Students who are campus-bound because of the MCO may be able to head home soon, as plans for their return are being drawn up by the government with MOH’s advice factored in. Tan Sri Muhyiddin elaborated on this, saying that the number of students involved is close to 100,000, and the risk of COVID-19 spreading must be kept at bay. The students will be screened and cleared before being allowed to go home. The details of this move will be announced in the near future.
He also announced that the government is considering granting a one-time travel authorisation for those who are in the kampung (hometown villages) or elsewhere and want to return to their respective homes. This permission is only granted to those who are stuck at the kampung or elsewhere before the government initiated the first phase of the MCO. Anticipating a massive exodus, the government is in the midst of gathering data and determining the best way to regulate the movement of these individuals. Those involved can register online using the application provided by the police, or make an appointment to show up at a police station for registration purposes.
Adding to this point, Tan Sri Muhyiddin said that it is vital the police arrange and coordinate travel plans to avoid congestion on the roads or highway rest areas. The travellers also need to make sure that they are healthy and have no symptoms before starting the journey. More details on this will be announced by the government in the near future.
In The Coming Weeks
[UPDATE: the conditional movement order (CMCO) that took effect on 4 May 2020 sees the resumption of several economic sectors, albeit with strict protocols]
Elsewhere in his speech, the Prime Minister said that if the number of COVID-19 cases exhibit a considerable downward trend, the government will look into gradually relinquishing control over several sectors, social sectors included, to reintroduce a measure of convenience into the daily lives of the public. The National Security Council is coming up with a comprehensive plan on this matter.
Tan Sri Muhyiddin has also directed the Ministry of Finance and the Economic Planning Unit of the Prime Minister’s Department to develop a comprehensive short-, medium- and long-term Economic Recovery Plan to ensure that economic activity can be regenerated as quickly as possible following the end of the MCO period. The current focus is to identify measures and initiatives that will stimulate short- and medium-term economic growth, and encourage public and investor confidence.
Among the initiatives being planned are nurturing the skills of the people, encouraging domestic spending, strengthening the industries including SMEs, and fostering a more positive investment environment for the future.
He also said that even with the extension of the MCO, companies in certain sectors will be allowed to operate, subject to compliance with the requirements of employee safety, social distancing and workplace hygiene. While certain economic sectors have been opened as of now, the government will consider opening other sectors and sub-sectors, subject to stringent requirements. This, he said, is to ensure that companies can remain competitive and that employees can resume work in a safe environment. Detailed guidelines and conditions will be given to investors and the corporate sector to commence operations of their respective companies.