On March 18, the government announced the implementation of a movement control order (MCO) in a bid to arrest the spread of Covid-19, which has now impacted more than 200 countries and territories globally. In Malaysia, the move entailed movement restrictions and the closing of businesses except for those providing essential services. The MCO was initially set to end on March 31, but was extended to a stricter phase two on April 1, until April 14.

Now, the MCO has been extended yet again by another two weeks, from April 15 to April 28. Prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced the extension in his special speech to the nation at 4pm. The extension is not surprising, with many already expecting the premier to extend the duration of the order, given that we’re not out of the woods just yet.

The PM said that while the percentage of cases in the country remained well below the expected World Health Organisation (WHO) projection benchmarks and the fatality rate, at 1.6%, was lower than the 5.8% world average, the country cannot afford to let its guard down, and has to retain the measures already in place to ensure that Covid-19 can be controlled from spreading further.

He said that the extension has been made on the advice of the health ministry, which advised against ending the MCO too early, because a second wave of outbreak was probable.as shown in other countries where restrictions were lifted too quickly,

Muhyiddin said that post-MCO, the country would have to remain vigilant, and said that life would not just return to normal for everyone, not the way it once was. He emphasised that social distancing will have to be practiced, and people will have to remember to continue washing their hands regularly, wear face masks and not shake hands with each other.

He added that there should also be no gatherings as well as no crowding in places, and travel will also be impacted in the short term, with many perhaps not being able to balik kampung for Raya.

Measures already taken to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus will remain in place. These include limited operating hours for all supermarkets, restaurants doing takeaways and petrol stations, with daily operating hours from 8am to 8pm for all. Food delivery services can also operate only from 8am to 8pm daily.

Limited operation hours for public transport (LRT/MRT and stage buses) will continue as last scheduled, from 6am to 10am and 5pm to 10pm daily, while taxis and ride-hailing vehicles will be permitted to operate from 6am to 10pm.

The number of essential services have been trimmed down to 10, and people are not permitted to travel more than 10 km from their homes to get food and necessities. If you’re driving out, remember to bring your utility bills as proof of residence and adhere to the one-person-per-car rule.

To discourage people from flouting the MCO advisory, the police force has been tightening measures in key areas, introducing more road closures over the past two weeks, in Subang Jaya, Gombak, Kajang and Petaling Jaya, and the cops have even began making extra rounds in residential areas to make sure people stay at home.

Those in defiance of the MCO – and that includes joyriding or arguing with the cops – will be slapped with a RM1,000 compound notice which must be paid within two weeks, otherwise they risk being hauled to court. So, folks, as the PM says, the war is not over, and the fight is still on. Stay calm, persevere, do your bit to help halt the spread of the virus by staying at home, and we will win.

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