PETALING JAYA • Eight of the 13 states in Malaysia have decided to retain some controls to halt the spread of the coronavirus in their territories, even though the central government said these rules would be eased nationwide from today.
Under the new rules announced last Friday, most businesses will be allowed to reopen, while people can return to work and begin dining at restaurants, provided social distancing and contact tracing measures are implemented.
But schools remain shut and large social gatherings are still banned.
The conditional movement control order (MCO) eases the strict rules in force since March 18, which largely confined people to their homes except to procure essential goods and services.
However, the northern state of Kedah said it would not implement the new rules yet.
Menteri Besar Mukhriz Mahathir said in a statement yesterday that Kedah's special security committee would meet tomorrow to study the requirements and guidelines announced by the federal government to ensure that they are suitable for the state.
He also said Kedah would not compromise on the safety and welfare of the people, and he urged Kedah residents to stay at home, practise good hygiene and adopt social distancing measures.
The country's richest state, Selangor, which surrounds the capital Kuala Lumpur, said it would first review how prepared the local authorities are at handling the resumption of business activities, including monitoring and enforcing safety procedures.
Restaurants, however, will not be allowed to operate dine-in services, Selangor Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari said in a statement yesterday.
Both Negeri Sembilan and Perak also decided against allowing food and beverage outlets to open for dine-in customers.
The East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak would not be adopting the new rules for now.
Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal said the state would maintain the existing restrictions, originally set to be in force until May 12.
"Our decision to maintain the MCO is to check on the spread of the Covid-19 virus in the state and to protect the people," he said in a statement yesterday.
Pahang, too, said it would be maintaining the status quo, and would discuss the new rules on Friday.
Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the state would defer introducing the conditional MCO to this Friday, and would fully reopen businesses only on May 13.
As of yesterday, over 400,000 people have signed a petition urging the Malaysian government to continue with its existing movement restrictions over concerns that the country was reopening too quickly in the face of the outbreak.
Malaysia reported 122 new confirmed coronavirus cases yesterday, taking the cumulative total to 6,298 infections.
The Health Ministry also reported two new deaths, raising the total number of fatalities from the outbreak to 105.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK