Friday, March 5, 2021

Malaysia to battle Covid-19 next year with new, ‘people-friendly’ MCO

Among others, the 'new norm' MCO will see SOPs and restrictions based on localities instead of being countrywide.

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Putrajaya may introduce a new variant of its movement control order (MCO) next year, aimed at implementing more “people-friendly” SOPs in the economic sector, MalaysiaNow has learnt.

It is understood that the “new norm” MCO, a more relaxed form of the movement restrictions first introduced in March this year at the early stage of the Covid-19 pandemic in Malaysia, will take effect once the conditional MCO, or CMCO, ends on Dec 31.

“The new norm MCO will see SOPs based on localities and districts, and no longer a one-size-fits-all method nationwide,” a source familiar with Putrajaya’s battle against Covid-19 told MalaysiaNow.

This will also mean that any form of MCO, instead of being statewide, will be confined to the affected district.

“This is unlike the present practice of authorities declaring CMCO across the whole state,” the source added.

“The new norm MCO will see SOPs based on localities and districts, and no longer a one-size-fits-all method nationwide.”

The MCO, first declared on March 18, was extended several times until May 4, when the CMCO came into place to allow select businesses to operate under strict SOPs. This was followed by the recovery MCO, which was discontinued after a fierce wave of new infections that saw daily cases reaching four-digit figures.

Several variants of the MCO, such as the enhanced and targeted MCOs, were also declared, where areas with unusually high numbers of cases were completely cordoned off.

The proposal for the “new norm” MCO has been welcomed by the agencies involved in streamlining the government’s response to the pandemic.

SOPs eased

The source also told MalaysiaNow that eateries and other business premises could see SOPs eased in an effort to ensure a balance between livelihoods and health concerns.

It is expected that starting Monday, there will be a major campaign to educate the public on the difference between the CMCO and “new norm” MCO.

However, there is no change to the dates of new school semesters as announced by the education minister.

Schools nationwide will start the new academic year on Jan 20, after several disruptions since March which left hundreds of thousands of students unable to complete their syllabus.

However, pre-school centres and tertiary institutions will be allowed to open on Jan 1.

“This is good news for many people especially parents and kindergarten operators,” the source added.

Kindergarten and nursery operators have complained about a lack of guidance from the education ministry on how to go about running their centres, forcing many of them to shut down.

Interstate travel

MalaysiaNow has also been informed by sources that the ban on interstate travel, which came into force in the wake of the CMCO affecting almost all states early November, will be lifted in the coming days.

“Police road blocks will however continue until the end of the year. But starting 2021, there will no longer be a need to apply for a permit for interstate travel. It will suffice for SOPs to be followed in vehicles,” the same source said.

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