UPDATE: The CMCO has officially been extended until June 9th, marking the first time the extension has gone beyond the two-week mark. Here are some of the major talking points of the day.

As most Malaysians were celebrating Mother’s Day earlier today, our Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin gave us an update on the recent CMCO developments. Aside from the CMCO being extended until June 9th, he also touched on various other topics.

In regards to Hari Raya celebrations, you can now visit family, relatives, and neighbours within the same state with a maximum of 20 people in attendance at one time.

Unfortunately, interstate travel is still not allowed. The same applies to both Hari Gawai and Hari Kaamatan. However, families who have had to spend this entire ordeal separated will now be allowed to meet. Interstate travel rules will be loosened to allow spouses to visit their families.

This comes despite the positive developments we have seen throughout the country in the past few weeks — a lower number of red zones as well as higher recovery rates.

The new conditional movement control order (MCO) is to take effect from May 4th onwards — how is this different from the regular MCO that’s in effect till May 12th?

While most of Malaysia was enjoying a Labour Day break yesterday, our Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin gave a rather surprising announcement: businesses are to resume from the 4th of May 2020 onwards. This move was called a “conditional movement control order” as part of a process to ease the partial lockdown imposed since March.

Because everything is vague and everyone seems to be scrambling around making plans to reopen businesses and plan parties, we’re here to put a damper on your plans and set things straight: what’s happening, what can we do, and what can we not do? Plan your coming days properly, and may we all go through this phase smoothly with no further cluster outbreaks.

MCO May 4
Image credit: Unsplash/ Deva Darshan

So, what’s happening from May 4th onwards?

“Almost all economic sectors will be allowed to open with conditions,” said the prime minister (PM). This is subject to rules and SOPs set by the authorities. The MCO, which has been in implementation since March 18th has dealt a significant blow to our country’s economy.

Does this mean the MCO is officially lifted?

No, and we repeat, no. The MCO is still currently in effect until May 12th, which means you still can’t leave your house and move about freely like you did before the MCO was implemented.

What is happening is just a slight relaxation of rules and allowing businesses to operate. Only head out when you absolutely need to (whether it’s for work, groceries, or emergencies), and practise good hygiene and social distancing. Remember, the fight against COVID-19 still isn’t over.

Also, please take note that you can now have a family member who is living in the same house to accompany you on your next grocery run. However, this doesn’t mean that two people should be going out together as this runs the risk of exposure to the virus. Only do so when absolutely necessary.

Can I go back to work/school?

For those working, check with your HR department on whether or not your operations may resume. There is a list of industries that are not permitted to resume operations, which will be updated from time to time depending on the development of the COVID-19 infection cases, said the PM. He urged employers to allow flexibility in working hours and mentioned that there is no need for everyone to be in the office at the same time.

“Employees must be screened every day while employers should allow employees to work from home.”

As for education, for the time being, all schools, colleges, and universities will remain closed.

Any social, community, cultural, and religious activities that involve a large number of people are not permitted. (Image credit: Unsplash/ Amin Haiqal)

Okay, my HR told me I need to return to the office. What about public transportation?

According to Prasarana Malaysia Berhad, the LRT, MRT, and bus services under Rapid will resume normal operating hours: 6 am to midnight. However, riders should still practise social distancing in trains and buses. With that in mind, the group’s CEO said that peak travel hours will be extended from 7 am to 11 am and 4 pm to 7 pm, which means a higher frequency of trains during those hours.

Trains and buses will have special signs to help with the social distancing practice, and rail services will operate at 50% of their full passenger capacity while for buses, it will be at 30%.

So does this mean I can go out and lepak at my favourite mamak now?

Update: The Selangor government has just announced on May 3rd that restaurants will not be allowed dine-in customers. Takeaway and deliver services are still allowed, and restaurants may extend their operating hours from 7 am to 10 pm daily.

Yes and no. Restaurants will be permitted to reopen for dine-in, but with social distancing measures. The outlets will need to rearrange their tables with a minimum distance of two-metres between tables, and there should be a notice for the maximum number of patrons permitted depending on the size of the table.

There will also be lines on the floor to encourage social distancing when at the cashier counter. Restaurants must have hand sanitiser at the counters and sufficient hand soap at the washroom.

All customers must have temperature checks before entering the restaurant and also record their name and contact number when visiting for contact tracing measures.

While we’re all for supporting our local F&B businesses and ensuring they live on, we’d encourage you to limit your time spent dining outdoors. You can still order in via delivery services.

Can I go out of the house to exercise now?

Only selected sports and fitness activities will be permitted. This includes non-contact sports, which means the likes of football, swimming, indoor, and stadium activities are still not allowed. That means your gym still cannot reopen. However, you can go jogging at the park, play badminton or tennis (without spectators), cycling, golf, and running in a small group of not more than 10 people. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, social distancing must be practised and physical contact is not permitted.

What about religious activities?

According to the PM, all forms of social, community, cultural, and religious activities that involve a large number of people are not permitted. Sorry, Sunday mass and Friday mosque prayers are still not allowed.

Can I balik kampung for Hari Raya?

Unfortunately, Hari Raya is going to have to be a quiet one this year. Interstate travelling is still not allowed (unless you are a student and you have applied the proper permits), so #StayAtHome and enjoy your rendang in peace and quiet.

For more stories that will help you ride out the Movement Control Order (MCO) amidst the COVID-19 season, check out this page.

Pohnee Chin & Wi-Liam Teh