The attorney-general’s chambers (AGC) today published a federal government gazette that outlines regulations and measures being taken to halt the spread of Covid-19. Included in the gazette are measures to restrict movement of the public during the two-week movement control order (MCO) period, and these essentially mirror that initially announced by the police.

Effectively, the Prevention And Control of Infectious Diseases (Measures Within The Infected Local Areas) Regulations 2020 gazette from the health ministry bans unnecessary travel from March 18 to 31, stating that “no person shall make a journey from one infected local area to another infected local area” except in specific cases. With Covid-19 outbreak cases reported in all states in the country, that just about covers all interstate travel.

Exemptions for travel will be given to those performing any official duty, those making a journey to and from any premises providing essential services (as outlined in the MCO), to seek healthcare or medical services or to purchase, supply or deliver food and daily necessities. You run the risk of being slapped with a RM1,000 fine or six months jail (or both) if you contravene the provisions of these regulations.

The notification states that travel between infected local areas would not be allowed “except without the prior written permission of a police officer in charge of a police station.” An enforcement of this has been attempted, but the plan has since been withdrawn temporarily.

Yesterday, the inspector-general of police (IGP) Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador had announced that all interstate travel will require permission from the police during the MCO period, stating that members of the public wishing to travel to other states would be required to notify their respective police station chiefs and submit an application for travel.

The order led to huge crowds gathering at police stations to fill up a travel application form, and by late yesterday night, Abdul Hamid said that the restriction was being retracted, at least for today. “People can now carry on with their journeys safely, and prudently, tonight. No restriction will be imposed on them (travelling) until a new decision is made after a meeting about this matter tomorrow (March 18),” he was quoted as saying yesterday night.

In an updated statement stating the halt in the issuance of the special permits, Abdul Hamid reiterated that the interstate travel restrictions announced earlier were still in place, and that special exemptions will only be made for those faced with a critical illness of a close relative or the requirement of medical treatment for themselves or a close family member, as well as other situations that will be weighed by the police.

More clarity on the issue will come when the new decision on the matter is anounced later today, but the idea remains, despite there being no official curbing of mobility at present – stay put if you don’t need to be anywhere. This will help in preventing the spread of the disease.

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