Be ready for stricter MCO, Malaysian authorities warn

Keeping their distance: People waiting at the Puteri Harbour International ferry terminal in Kota Iskandar in Johor.
The Star/Asia News Network

PUTRAJAYA - The authorities have warned the public to be prepared for stricter regulations as the movement control order (MCO) enters the second phase.

Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the National Security Council was drafting a new standard operating procedure, which will be presented tomorrow.

He indicated that the new regulations may involve people's movements when it comes to shopping and going out to buy food.

Under the ongoing phase one, he said people were still allowed to move around albeit with some restrictions.

"The National Security Council has been asked to draft a new standard operating procedure for phase two of the order where the rules and regulations will be more stringent than what are in place now, " he said.

"So maybe after this, there will be more restrictions imposed."

He said the stricter regulations are necessary to ensure measures taken to break the Covid-19 chain of infections are successful.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced on Wednesday the two-week extension of the MCO until April 14.

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The first phase of the 14-day MCO is from March 18 to 31.

Despite restrictions, the public is allowed to go out to get essentials such as food and medicine.

Ismail Sabri also said that Wisma Putra and the Immigration Department will draw up a guideline to help Malaysians stranded overseas who want to return home.

He said many Malaysians are affected by the lockdown imposed by the countries they are currently in where the authorities do not allow flights to arrive and depart.

"Some Malaysians who are now overseas cannot afford to return. We have asked the Foreign Ministry and Immigration to come up with a standard operating procedure to resolve this problem, " he said.

Ismail Sabri said he does not have the figure on how many Malaysians are stranded abroad, adding that this will be made known when the guideline is presented by Wisma Putra.

Apart from India, he added, there are also Malaysian students in Indonesia, United Kingdom and Australia who want to return home.

The Foreign Ministry has to date repatriated Malaysians from India, Bangladesh, Iran and Italy, among others.

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