PUTRAJAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Restaurants and convenience stores in Malaysia are now allowed to stay open until 2am, beginning on Friday (Sept 11), said Malaysian Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri said the National Security Council, or Majlis Keselamatan Negara (MKN), agreed to extend the operating hours following requests from operators bemoaning the lack of income.
"There have been complaints, especially in tourist areas like Langkawi. Entertainment is still not allowed, so all that tourists can do is eat. Restaurant owners have asked for an extension of operation hours.
"MKN has agreed to allow food outlets and convenience stores to open until 2am," he said at a press briefing on Thursday.
Malaysia, which has been progressively rolling back its movement restrictions since June, had allowed restaurants to operate at full capacity, but only until midnight.
Meanwhile, Mr Ismail Sabri said all foreigners are now allowed to pray in mosques, the Malay Mail reported.
The government had previously banned foreigners from using the mosques in the country.
At the same press briefing, Mr Ismail Sabri also announced that the Kota Setar district in the state of Kedah and Tawau Prison in Sabah would be placed under administrative enhanced movement restrictions from Friday until Sept 25, following a spike in Covid-19 cases there.
Under the restrictions, nobody is allowed to leave or enter the area.
"Educational, recreational, social and sporting activities, as well as religious gatherings in mosques and places of worship, are not to be held," Mr Ismail Sabri said.
The Malaysian-Thai border in Bukit Kayu Hitam would not see any cross-border activities throughout the 14-day lockdown, he said.
Aside from clinics and hospitals, which can operate round the clock, other business activities such as restaurants, sundry shops and petrol stations are allowed to operate from 8am to 8pm.
As for Tawau Prison, the enhanced restrictions will affect inmates, 114 prison officers and 355 family members.
"During this period, there will be no movement in and out of the prison," said Mr Ismail Sabri, who assured the people in Tawau that cases were confined and chances of spreading to the community were low.
Malaysia has also relaxed rules to allow for entry of long-term pass holders, including expatriates from 23 countries that Malaysia had earlier put under an entry ban.
The leeway was also meant for professional visit pass holders, permanent residents, spouses of Malaysian citizens and student pass holders, he said, adding that all applications must go through the Immigration Department.
The ban took effect on Sept 7 following the high number of Covid-19 cases recorded in the United States, Brazil, India, Russia, Peru, Colombia, South Africa, Mexico, Spain, Argentina, Chile, Iran, Bangladesh, Britain, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, France, Turkey, Italy, Germany, Iraq, the Philippines and Indonesia.