A recent survey has found that while a majority of Malaysians are aware of the government's move to lift the face mask mandate, most of them prefer to continue wearing masks in public places, citing among others a feeling of security and the fact that vaccines do not provide complete protection from the virus.
The survey, conducted among 1,003 adults by the UCSI Poll Research Centre, found that 75% of the respondents were aware of the health ministry's announcement on Sept 7 that the use of face masks would be made optional unless at healthcare facilities or while taking public transport.
However, 71% said they had continued wearing masks in public places.
Eighty percent said they did so as a precautionary measure, 62% said they felt safe while wearing masks, and 41% said vaccines do not provide total protection from Covid-19.
When asked their opinion of the face mask ruling, 45% said it was an appropriate move as Malaysia was transitioning to the endemic phase, while 31% said it was too early to do away with masks.
Meanwhile, 24% said they would wear face masks regardless of the announcement.
In terms of safety, 63% said they felt unsafe when the people around them were not wearing masks.
The government made the use of face masks mandatory at the peak of the pandemic on Aug 1, 2020.
Face masks were made optional outdoors on May 1, as part of the country's move towards the endemic phase of Covid-19.
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, when announcing that face masks would be made optional indoors as well, said high-risk individuals were encouraged to continue using them.
Individual premises were also given the option of insisting on the use of face masks.
He also encouraged the continued use of face masks in crowded areas such as night markets, stadiums, shopping centres and houses of worship, recommending that those with symptoms such as fever and cough wear masks as well.