KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - From Aug 1, Malaysians will be required to wear face masks in public areas, said Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
Those who fail to comply with the ruling can be fined or prosecuted in court.
Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri said the government made the decision following the increase of Covid-19 cases in the past three days and lack of compliance on standard operating procedures (SOPs) by Malaysians.
"The Health Ministry reported that 50 per cent of the public do not adhere to the SOPs. Given the rise of double-digit Covid-19 cases, the government has decided to make it (wearing face masks in public) compulsory," he told a press conference in Parliament on Thursday (July 23).
He said the government previously refrained from making the wearing of face masks compulsory because it does not want to further add financial strains to the lower-income group.
This is because face masks should be, ideally, changed every three hours but Mr Ismail Sabri said "one face mask per day is also acceptable."
"The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also said that people can make their own face masks but they have to follow a strict set of specifications. In Malaysia, the Health Ministry will issue the specifications for home-made face masks soon," he added.
He reminded everyone to comply with the SOPs, especially in wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing.
"Even though it is only compulsory to wear face masks in public from Aug 1, the people should start wearing them sooner, especially those travelling in public transport to 'balik kampung' (going back to hometowns) for Hari Raya Aidiladha.
"Wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing will assist tremendously in preventing the spread of Covid-19," he said.
Asked whether the number of visitors for Hari Raya Aidiladha will be limited, Mr Ismail Sabri said the government has not made such a decision.
"However, if there is a significant spike in cases and the Health Ministry advises as such, we will look into the matter. The government's decision and ruling can change based on the latest development," he added.