KUALA LUMPUR (SIN CHEW DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced that the conditional movement control order (CMCO) implemented from May 4 would be extended for another four weeks to June 9, taking Malaysians' battle against the coronavirus to a protracted phase five.
The prime minister said the CMCO had been in smooth implementation since May 4 without any unusual congestion, with most Malaysians complying with the rules.
In addition, most economic sectors and commercial activities have been resumed and those stranded in their hometowns or college campuses have been allowed to make interstate trips back to their work places or homes.
With workers now getting their salaries and businessmen their incomes, a new lease of life has been breathed into the country's economy. The resumption of economic activities will expedite the development and growth of the stalled national economy.
Nevertheless, after taking into consideration proposals from the health ministry and national security council, the government has decided to extend the conditional MCO by another four weeks.
The duration of past four phases of MCO has been 14 days each. The second phase of CMCO is now extended by four weeks, meaning members of the public will not be allowed to travel out of state to celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri or the Dayak Gawai festival with their families.
The prime minister has urged the public to exercise patience and return to their hometowns only after the whole Covid-19 outbreak is fully contained.
Muslims can still celebrate Aidilfitri and those living within the same community or state can still visit one another provided that the size of gathering is smaller than 20.
Before the prime minister made the announcement, many had anticipated that he would extend the CMCO for another two weeks. Many were taken by surprise that the extension was for 28 days, right into the month of June.
This means we will have eight more days of semi-lockdown compared to neighbouring Singapore!
As the PM said, Malaysians have done very well during CMCO. An estimated 6.64 million employees have returned to their work places and the country's economic locomotive has been restarted. More are expected to join them over the next couple of weeks.
The protracted CMCO extension shows that the government is determined to take a longer time to fight the virus in order to get the most optimal results.
Although there have been new clusters and sporadic explosions of infections reported during the CMCO, the authorities have been fast to seal off areas with large numbers of infections and enforce safety checks in order to break the infection chains, such as the lockdown of PJ Old Town early Sunday morning.
To get back to the days with absolutely no coronavirus threats will very much rely on full cooperation from the rakyat in complying with the health ministry's SOPs for work resumption, keeping safe social distances, wearing face masks, maintaining good personal hygiene, regularly sanitising hands and other "new normal" practices to keep the virus at bay.
Non-compliance of SOPs is still visible at supermarkets, food courts and shopping malls. We should gently remind the violators of the necessity to abide by the rules with the hope they will accept the advice in good faith, as this is a manifestation of respect for life and for everyone else in our community.
Please, take good care of ourselves and one another as we go through the - hopefully - last 28 days of MCO.
Sin Chew Daily is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 24 news media organisations.