Coronavirus: Malaysians working in Singapore can't commute starting March 18, says Malaysia's immigration chief

Temperature checks at Woodlands Checkpoint on Feb 1, 2020.
PHOTO: The Straits Times file

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysians who travel to Singapore on a near daily basis for work or study will not be able to do so when a movement restriction order comes into effect on Wednesday (March 18), Malaysia’s immigration chief said on Tuesday.

“Not allowed from tomorrow until March 31,” Immigration director-general Khairul Dzaimee Daud told news site Malaysiakini in a brief WhatsApp message.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Monday announced measures to control the movement of residents nationwide to tackle the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the order effective from March 18 to 31, travel will be restricted, with Malaysian citizens barred from travelling overseas and tourists denied entry into the country.

Shortly after Tan Sri Muhyiddin's announcement of the restrictions, Democratic Action Party state assemblyman for Stulang, Mr Andrew Chen Kah Eng, said on Facebook that he had called the director of the Johor Immigration Department, Mr Haji Baharuddin Tahir, who confirmed that Malaysians who travel to Singapore via land to work or study will be affected by the new order.

Some 300,000 people move across the land crossings at the Woodlands and Tuas checkpoints alone on a daily basis, according to Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong.

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The order also includes a ban on mass gatherings, including all religious, sporting, social and cultural events. Houses of worship and businesses are to close, but supermarkets, markets, mini-markets and convenience stores will remain open.

All schools, universities and businesses will be shuttered but those providing essential services will continue to operate during the two-week period. These essential services include utilities, transport, banking, healthcare and security.

As of Tuesday, there have been 566 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, which causes the Covid-19 disease, according to the pandemic tracking site worldometer.

Malaysia reported on Jan 25 its first cases of infection - three China nationals who had travelled from Singapore to Malaysia via Johor Baru.

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This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.