KUALA LUMPUR, April 1 — The second phase of the Movement Control Order (MCO), which begins today, is a critical period for Malaysians to determine whether efforts to break the COVID-19 chain of infection are successful or not.
Its effectiveness will surely depend, among others, on the people’s level of discipline to comply with the MCO, whereby the public is continuously being urged to stay at home, frequently wash their hands and adopt social distancing.
Although the rate of compliance is over 90 percent, the figure may not necessarily give a true picture of the overall situation, judging by the fact that there are still individuals arrested for violating the MCO and who gave the silliest of excuses for non-compliance.
During the two weeks of phase one of the MCO from March 18, the number of positive cases daily sometimes trended upwards and sometimes plateaued while the number of patients discharged daily increased by the day.
Yet, judging by the still high number of positive cases, the government had no choice but to enhance its Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) in the second stage of the MCO until April 14, especially in terms of time and movement restrictions.
Under the second phase, all business premises selling daily essentials, including supermarkets and petrol stations, are allowed to operate from 8 am to 8 pm only.
Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, in making the announcement, had said that stalls and restaurants, as well as food delivery services, also had to adhere to the same operating hours during the second phase.
Effective today also, the government has set a new ceiling price for face masks at RM1.50 each.
The government’s seriousness in wanting to curb the spread of the virus can also be seen in its decision in making all Malaysians returning from overseas to undergo a 14-day quarantine at government-designated special locations effective April 3.
What is certain, though, is that the next 14 days would give an indication as to whether the Ramadan month and Hari Raya Aidilfitri this year will be celebrated the usual way.
To quote Ismail Sabri: “The ones who can make sure there will be no third MCO, fourth MCO and we can celebrate Hari Raya, as usual, are you – the people.
“If we continue to comply with every directive and SOP issued by the government, I believe we need not worry about an extension of the MCO.”