Coronavirus: Malaysia makes it mandatory to wear face masks in public from Aug 1

A woman wearing a mask in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday. The government made the decision on wearing masks following the recent increase in Covid-19 cases and lack of compliance with standard operating procedures by the public.
A woman wearing a mask in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday. The government made the decision on wearing masks following the recent increase in Covid-19 cases and lack of compliance with standard operating procedures by the public. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

KUALA LUMPUR • From Aug 1, people in Malaysia will be required to wear face masks in public areas, Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said yesterday.

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 in Covid-19 cases in the past few days and lack of compliance with standard operating procedures (SOPs) by the public.

The country recorded double-digit cases between Sunday and Wednesday, after weeks of mostly fewer than 10 new cases detected each day. The number dipped slightly when Malaysia recorded nine new Covid-19 cases yesterday, bringing the total number of infections to 8,840.

The Health Ministry had previously expected to see zero cases as early as the middle of this month.

"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," Mr Ismail Sabri said.

He said the government previously refrained from making the wearing of face masks compulsory because it does not want to further add financial strain to the lower-income group.

This is because face masks should be, ideally, changed every three hours but Mr Ismail Sabri said that "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, people should start wearing them sooner, especially those travelling in public transport to 'balik kampung' (going back to home towns) for Hari Raya" next Friday, he added.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 24, 2020, with the headline Coronavirus: Malaysia makes it mandatory to wear face masks in public from Aug 1. Subscribe