KUALA LUMPUR, June 8 — Only a few weeks ago the song ‘Balik Kampung’ has left many heartbroken as they were prohibited from travelling to their hometown for Aidilfitri celebrations to prevent COVID-19 infection, but starting this Wednesday everyone is allowed to travel across the country to visit loved ones.
This is following the happy news announced by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin yesterday on the implementation of the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) to replace the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) which will end this Tuesday, which will also allow everyone to embark on interstate travel from June 10 until Aug 31.
The move, much awaited by everyone, will put an end to the longing felt by the majority of city folks wanting to see their parents and loved ones after being separated for almost three months as a result of the implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO) and the CMCO.
The number of vehicles on major highways is expected to increase significantly from Wednesday onwards and undoubtedly, employers will also receive a high number of leave applications from their employees.
The upcoming Aidiladha celebration, which is expected to fall on July 31, will certainly be more lively after religious festivities and worship are permitted but subject to strict standard operating procedures (SOPs) set by the Islamic religious authorities.
At the same time, permission will also be given to commercial activities not involving business premises, visits to museums, indoor busking activities, and recreational fishing ponds, while relaxation for religious prayers and activities in mosques and other houses of worship are currently being fine-tuned.
However, there are still a number of prohibited activities which include large-scale religious congregations, ‘kenduri’ (feasts) and open houses as well as a variety of sports and recreational activities which involve physical contact and gatherings of spectators at stadiums.
In line with the country’s economic recovery phase, domestic tourism activities will also be allowed, but those who wish to travel abroad will have to wait for now as the country’s borders are still closed.
All these developments can be viewed as a positive start for the tourism industry which has been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. However there are still a few things that need to be fine-tuned in relation to the SOPs at hotels and other tourist accommodation.
In the meantime, there are parents who are wondering when schools will be reopened. School reopening will be carried out in stages during the RMCO and a detailed announcement will be made by the Ministry of Education in the near future.
According to the Prime Minister, the implementation of the RMCO is part of the country’s exit strategy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While there will be plenty of relaxation on certain matters, we should always maintain hygiene, wear face masks when in public and avoid crowded places when returning to the hometown because the responsibility of controlling COVID-19 transmission is in our hands.
In the event of a spike in the COVID-19 infections the government may need to retighten the MCO and we will all be partially “locked down” again.
Today is the 83rd day of the MCO and the 36th day of the CMCO and thus far, the new cases of COVID-19 remain in double figures, with 19 new cases reported yesterday. This demonstrates that Malaysia continues to successfully control the spread of the outbreak and is now entering the recovery phase.
Therefore, the government has decided that starting on Wednesday, Malaysians returning from abroad will no longer have to undergo mandatory quarantine, but will only need to undergo a 14-day quarantine at home, unless they are screened positive for COVID-19 at the airport, in which case they will be sent to hospital for treatment.
Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said returning Malaysians would be required to download the MySejahtera application as they would be monitored through the application, and to wear quarantine bracelets to facilitate the identification process.