At today’s non-health daily briefing by the government, senior minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob hinted at what’s to come regarding the movement of people in the days of Covid-19, for both the remainder of the movement control order (MCO) as well as post-MCO, when the blanket nationwide order lifts.

It will be based on zones denoting how many Covid-19 positive cases in the area, and the standard operating procedure (SOP) will be tabled by the National Security Council (NSC) together with the home ministry at a special cabinet committee meeting this Thursday, The Star reports.

Ismail Sabri, who is also defence minister, said the SOP will address people movement as well as business operations without jeopardising the measures in place to stop the coronavirus from spreading. “The SOP is also for post MCO to prepare us for the days ahead after April 14,” he said, adding that as of today, no decision has been made on whether the MCO will be extended or lifted on April 14, which is when phase two of the MCO ends.

It will be a balancing act, and the SOP is needed so that Malaysia doesn’t go the way of certain countries that have lifted restriction orders. Hong Kong and Singapore were mentioned as examples of countries that saw Covid-19 cases taper, before a second wave of infections surfaced.

The Bera MP gave some examples at the press conference. He said that for instance, the NSC’s SOP will determine if it’s wise to allow residents in green zones (areas with no Covid-19 positive cases) to go out of their area, as this might introduce risk to the green zone. How about those who live in a green zone but work in a red one? There might be some loosening based on zones, he said, without elaborating. Green aside, the other zones are amber and red, the latter being those with over 40 Covid-19 cases.

“All this will have to be studied. We know that the people are restless after being confined to their homes for a month. But we don’t want to allow people to move freely and later have to reverse the decision and impose a longer MCO,” he said.

So, it looks like Malaysia will probably have a clearer picture later in the week. Will the MCO be extended? If it ends, will life go back to normal? What measures will be put in place once the blanket MCO is lifted? Not long now, so hang on in there, comrade.

In the current phase two of the MCO – which will go on until April 14 at least – supermarkets, grocers, restaurants providing takeaways and petrol stations are all limited to 8am-8pm operating hours, and the same goes for food delivery services. Public transport operation hours are now from 6am to 10am and 5pm to 10pm daily, while taxis and ride-hailing vehicles will be permitted to operate from 6am to 10pm.

Please continue to stay at home unless it’s heading out for essentials, and if you do drive out, keep travel distances short and be mindful of the 10 km limit. Also, remember to bring your utility bills as proof of residence and adhere to the one-person-per-car rule. Joyriders will be caught.

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