Coronavirus: Malaysia's transport services resume at full capacity, mosques reopen

 Mosques in Malaysia's Federal Territories will reopen for Friday and other congregational prayers on June 12, 2020.
Mosques in Malaysia's Federal Territories will reopen for Friday and other congregational prayers on June 12, 2020.PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's public transport services, including buses, ferries, trains and planes, can now resume operating at full capacity with no limit on their operating hours, said Senior Minister for Security Ismail Sabri Yaakob on Thursday (June 11).

Transport operators and passengers however have to comply with strict safety protocols including wearing face masks, using tracking applications and conducting temperature checks.

"Standard operating procedures are in place and operators must ensure these are followed by the passengers," the minister said.

Under the country's stricter measures previously, buses were not allowed to run at night, and could transport only half their usual capacity of passengers. Meanwhile ride-hailing services could operate until 10pm only and were limited to a maximum of two passengers in a car.

These relaxed rules come as Malaysia enters what it calls the "recovery" phase of its coronavirus measures, after a partial shutdown initiated in March brought down the number of new daily infections to double-digit figures.

On Thursday, the health ministry reported 31 new Covid-19 cases, 11 of which were returning Malaysians who had been infected abroad. The spike follows three days of single-digit new infections.

No new fatalities were recorded, keeping the death toll at 118. Malaysia's Covid-19 recovery rate stands at around 84.4 per cent.

However national health chief Noor Hisham Abdullah noted on Thursday that the country could be declared free from Covid-19 only if there are no new cases for a period of 28 days.

Meanwhile mosques in Malaysia's Federal Territories will reopen for Friday and other congregational prayers on June 12.

De facto Religious Affairs Minister Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri said in a special televised address on Thursday that only mosques and suraus (prayer houses) in areas with no active coronavirus cases can reopen, and these would be allowed to have congregants fill only one-third of their prayer halls' total space.

They will be open only to Malaysians above the age of 12, who have no Covid-19 symptoms and who do not suffer from chronic diseases.

 
 
 

The minister also announced that Malaysian Muslims would not be permitted to undertake the haj this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The decision to postpone this year's pilgrimage was made after a briefing by the Health Ministry and a discussion by the special committee of the National Council for Islamic Religious Affairs on Tuesday.

"This was a difficult decision, as we know performing the haj is of great importance to Muslims," said Datuk Seri Dr Zulkifli.

More than 30,000 pilgrims from Malaysia perform the pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, every year.

Singapore and Indonesia have also postponed the haj for their citizens this year.

Theme parks in Penang may also reopen but water-based attractions and public swimming pools, including in condominiums, must stay closed for the time being, said Penang tourism, arts, culture and heritage committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin. Art, music and dance classes in the state are also allowed to resume.

The government began easing movement controls from May 4 to revive the economy, which it said then had been suffering RM2.4 billion (S$784 million) in daily losses since controls were implemented in mid-March.