Coronavirus Malaysia

KL shuts down again

Quieter roads, malls as new curbs on travel and business operations to fight Covid-19 spread kick in

An empty pedestrian bridge in KL yesterday, with people in sectors not listed as essential services required to work from home.
Passers-by walking past closed businesses in a bazaar area on day one of the implementation of the movement control order in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. Non-essential stores in malls were also not operating. PHOTO: EPA-EFE
 An empty cafe (above), a row of shuttered shops and a deserted street outside a shopping mall marked  the start of a new round of movement restrictions in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
An empty cafe (above), a row of shuttered shops and a deserted street outside a shopping mall marked the start of a new round of movement restrictions in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. PHOTO: EPA- EFE, REUTERS
 An empty cafe, a row of shuttered shops (above) and a deserted street outside a shopping mall marked  the start of a new round of movement restrictions in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
An empty cafe, a row of shuttered shops (above) and a deserted street outside a shopping mall marked the start of a new round of movement restrictions in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. PHOTO: EPA- EFE, REUTERS
 An empty cafe, a row of shuttered shops and a deserted street outside a shopping mall marked  the start of a new round of movement restrictions in Kuala Lumpur yesterday (above).
An empty cafe, a row of shuttered shops and a deserted street outside a shopping mall marked the start of a new round of movement restrictions in Kuala Lumpur yesterday (above). PHOTO: EPA- EFE, REUTERS
The roads were deserted yesterday in the Malaysian capital, with only two people per household allowed to go out to buy groceries.
The roads were deserted yesterday in the Malaysian capital, with only two people per household allowed to go out to buy groceries. PHOTO: REUTERS
An empty pedestrian bridge in KL yesterday, with people in sectors not listed as essential services required to work from home.
An empty pedestrian bridge in KL yesterday, with people in sectors not listed as essential services required to work from home. PHOTO: REUTERS

Malls and streets in the Malaysian capital were quieter than usual yesterday as fresh nationwide movement restrictions kicked in to stem the spread of Covid-19, which saw new cases hit a record 3,309 on Tuesday and four deaths.

Five states - Melaka, Johor, Penang, Selangor and Sabah - and the federal territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya are now under the movement control order (MCO).

Only essential services in these areas are allowed to operate, and restaurants can open just for takeaways and deliveries.

Only two people per household can go out for groceries, and within a 10km radius from home.

Inter-state and inter-district travel is no longer permitted.

Anyone breaching these rules can be fined up to RM1,000 (S$330).

The police and military had begun setting up roadblocks nationwide after midnight to ensure compliance.

Jalan Ampang, one of KL's main thoroughfares leading to the Petronas Twin Towers, saw fewer cars than usual yesterday. There was still some peak-hour traffic as more businesses are allowed to remain running compared with the first MCO in March last year.

People who have already bought tickets will be allowed to travel until tomorrow.

A state of emergency has also been declared, effective from Monday to Aug 1 - or earlier, if the virus is controlled. Under the emergency, there will be no parliamentary sittings or elections, and the King can make decrees, such as ordering the government to take over private healthcare facilities to relieve the strain on public hospitals. All economic activities continue, subject to health protocols.

Non-essential stores in malls were closed for business yesterday, and restaurants and eateries had cleared their tables and chairs, although some jewellery and bath supply stores were seen open.

Traffic jams were rife on Tuesday, as people ran last-minute errands and headed back to their home towns.

"My neighbour said he had to fight the traffic jam and the market crowds to buy ingredients for his small eatery yesterday. Another neighbour told me her brother had to spend 31/2 hours to get home from work when it would usually take only 25 to 30 minutes," said home business owner Gina Lee, 38, who lives in Johor Baru.

Fitness enthusiasts are happy that they are still allowed to exercise outdoors, unlike during the first MCO in March.

"Although group training is not permitted, it was a great relief that this round of MCO has allowed both jogging and cycling within our neighbourhood," said student and triathlete Omar Karlos, 16.

The new measures are scheduled to end on Jan 26 but they may be extended if deemed necessary.

Malaysia now has 141,533 Covid-19 cases and 559 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said 15 public hospitals are nearing capacity.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 14, 2021, with the headline 'KL shuts down again'. Print Edition | Subscribe