With the third phase of the movement control order (MCO) now in effect from today until April 28, the government has announced an expansion to the list of essential services, increasing it from 10 to 15 categories. The new list is now part of the Federal Gazette – Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Measures within Infected Local Areas) (No.3) Regulations 2020, published on April 14.

The 10 essential services defined under phase two of the MCO were:

  • Food
  • Water
  • Energy
  • Communications and Internet
  • E-commerce
  • Solid waste and public cleansing management and sewerage
  • Healthcare and medical including dietary supplement
  • Banking and finance
  • Security and defence
  • Logistics confined to the provision of essential services

These have been expanded with the inclusion of the following:

  • Hotels and accommodations
  • Transportation by land, water or air
  • Port, dock and airport services and undertakings, including stevedoring, lighterage, cargo handling, and pilotage, and storing or bulking of commodities
  • Production, refining, storage, supply and distribution of fuel and lubricants
  • Any services, works or industry as determined by the minister after consultation with the authority regulating the services, works or industry

In the first phase of the MCO, which was in effect from March 18 to 31, the government listed 22 essential services, but this was trimmed down to 10 during the second phase, which was from April 1 to 14. Some of the inclusions above were categorised as essential services, but were not officially listed in the previous (No.2) gazette.

Under the gazette, essential services are defined as “services as specified in the schedule and includes any activity and process in the supply chain of such essential services.” As it was in the No.2 gazette, the regulations regarding the control of movement remain, as do the general conditions of movement, save an amendment to a regulation that allows people to travel more than 10 km from their homes for health care if medical services are unavailable within that distance.

This was previously not stated, with the regulation only saying that people could move within a radius of not more than 10 km from their homes, “or to a place nearest to his residence.” For non-health movement, the travel restriction of 10 km from the point of residence for the purpose of obtaining essentials and food remains.

The advice continues – get off the roads if you have no reason to be on it. The government has said that it will no longer just mete out RM1,000 compound notices because they don’t seem to be working, and those who flout the MCO will now be remanded and charged in court.

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