Inspector-general of police (IGP) Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador has withdrawn the plan to impose interstate travel restrictions, for now. Announced yesterday evening (March 17), the order led to big crowds gathering at police stations to fill up a travel application form.

“In relation to that, we retracted the restriction, and 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 in a Berita Harian report.

In an updated statement, Abdul Hamid reiterated that the interstate travel restrictions announced earlier were still in place, and that special exemptions were only to 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.

Yesterday, the IGP had said that all interstate travel will require permission from the police during the two-week movement control order, which just kicked in at midnight and will last till March 31.

He said that members of the public wishing to travel to other states will be required to notify their respective police station chiefs and submit an application for travel. They will be required to bring any documents to verify their business there, and exemption letters will be issued to those who need to travel for important matters or emergencies.

Abdul Hamid said that at this juncture, the police will not openly enforce checks, but will use the next few days as a litmus test to see if the public adheres to the order before taking the next course of action, should the need arise. He said the public should not take advantage of this leeway by attempting to travel without a permit or obtain one to go on a holiday.

“Our role is to control the movement of the public inter-state. This exercise is crucial to stop the outbreak of the virus. If we find that people are still flouting the order, we will decide on taking stricter action,” he said, urging public cooperation on the matter.

As the top cop said, there will be a meeting and decision on this issue later today. For those who really have to travel tonight, stay calm, keep awake and drive safe.