Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin yesterday extended the country's conditional stay-at-home order by another four weeks, to June 9.
Tan Sri Muhyiddin said although new Covid-19 cases are lower now than at the start of the movement curbs, the fight to halt the spread of the coronavirus is not yet over.
"Even though we have achieved positive developments in the war against Covid-19, we haven't fully succeeded yet," he warned, adding that most Malaysians want the government to take the necessary steps to fight the spread of the virus.
"Therefore, based on advice from the Health Ministry and the National Security Council, I wish to announce that the conditional movement control order that runs until May 12... will remain in force until 9 June."
Malaysia first imposed movement curbs on March 18, as the number of coronavirus cases in the country began to rise sharply.
Schools and non-essential businesses were shut, and people were confined to their homes except to buy food, essential items or to seek medical treatment.
These controls were eased last Monday, allowing most businesses to reopen and people to travel for work.
Schools, however, remain shut and large social gatherings are still banned. Travel between Malaysia's 13 states is barred, except for work purposes, and the country's borders are still shut to tourists.
Mr Muhyiddin said the country's annual mass exodus to home towns, or "balik kampung", ahead of the Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations in two weeks' time will not be allowed, nor will large open house events.
Similar restrictions on travel and large gatherings apply to other upcoming festivals, including Gawai and Kaamaatan, which are widely celebrated in East Malaysia.
Do not be careless... As more people go back to work, the risk of infection is higher. The coming weeks are critical.
MALAYSIAN PRIME MINISTER MUHYIDDIN YASSIN, in a live broadcast.
However, Mr Muhyiddin said, small gatherings for the festive celebrations, up to a maximum of 20 people, are allowed. He reminded people to take the necessary precautions during such events, by practising social distancing, and using face masks and hand sanitisers.
A total of 6.64 million, or 43.6 per cent of employees have returned to work since controls were eased last Monday, and more are expected to do so in the coming weeks, the Prime Minister said.
"Do not be careless... As more people go back to work, the risk of infection is higher. The coming weeks are critical," he said adding that the government will impose lockdowns in areas which see a spike in coronavirus cases.
The Malaysian health authorities said two weeks ago that the country is in a "recovery phase", as the number of new daily cases has mostly fallen to double digits in the past three weeks, a marked improvement from the triple digits recorded in mid-March and early last month.
Yesterday, there were 67 new cases, bringing the tally to 6,656. The death toll remained at 108, with no new deaths reported. The country's recovery rate stands at 75.5 per cent of confirmed cases.