Malaysia is further easing restrictive measures to allow nearly all social, education, commercial activities to resume since the latest figure suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic was under control, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Sunday.
In a televised speech, Muhyiddin announced that the restrictions under the movement control order would be further relaxed from June 10 to give the public greater freedom while keeping the outbreak in the country under control, reports Xinhua news agency.
Malaysia has been under restrictions since March 18 to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, with a relaxed version being implemented since May 4, which is scheduled to end on June 9.
Since the implementation of the restrictions, the infection rate of COVID-19 in the country has been showing a trend of decline, with data suggesting that the local transmission among Malaysians is going down and under control, said Muhyiddin, adding that most new cases recently were imported ones or from the illegal migrants held at the immigration detention facilities.
“This shows that Malaysia has successfully controlled the spread of COVID-19 and now is entering the recovery phase,” he said.
Under the recovery phase of the movement control order, interstate travel and domestic tourism will be allowed, and nearly all social, educational, religious activities, and commercial and economic businesses will be allowed to operate with the requirement of the strict standard operating procedure (SOP) set by the government.
Schools will reopen on stages, with the Health Ministry and Education Ministry working out details on the implementation.
However, pubs, night clubs, entertainment centres, theme parks, massage parlours as well as sporting events and other large-scale activities resulting in crowds will remain prohibited.
Sporting activities involving physical contacts like football are still not allowed.
Border controls remain in place. Malaysia has banned citizens from leaving the country and foreign visitors to enter since the implementation of the movement control order.
The new measures will be in place till August 31, said Muhyiddin.
The Prime Minister said during this time the government will focus on seven key thrusts, including strengthening public health, border security, law enforcement, implementing the “new normal” culture, community responsibility, protecting vulnerable groups and fully opening the economy.
Muhyiddin emphasized the importance of complying with rules and SOPs implemented for the public’s safety, warning that the government would not hesitate to re-impose strict measures should the number of new cases spiked.
He also appealed for the public to accept the new normal as a culture and to be patient as the government was working as hard as possible to normalize the situation in the country.
Meanwhile, the Southeast Asian nations of Thailand, the Philippines and Singapore have already started to ease their coronavirus lockdowns.
There have been at least 2,700 COVID-19 deaths in Southeast Asia, a region that has registered a total of 89,000 cases, reports Efe news.
With the partial opening of restaurants, shops and public parks already in effect, Thailand will from Monday allow cinemas, gyms and massage parlours to resume activities.
The Thai government’s PR department tweeted on Sunday: “The third phase of relaxed measures will begin on 1 June, when many establishments will be allowed to resume their services under the strict measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“Inter-provincial travel is also being relaxed to support economic activities.”
The Tourism industry accounts for between 12-20 per cent of Thailand’s GDP.
Thai health authorities on Sunday said there had been four new cases detected in the country in the last 24 hours, bringing the overall total since the outbreak began to 3,081. A total of 57 people have died.
Authorities in the Philippines were set to ease the lockdown in the capital Manila also from Monday.
In a bid to contain the spread of the virus, the city has been under draconian restrictions for 78 days, two days longer than Wuhan, the Chinese city where the virus originated last December.
Deserted for more than two months, traffic will return to the streets of Manila on Monday and residents will be given more freedom to leave their house, although the use of masks in public spaces such as shops will be required.