Malaysia bans travel abroad, shuts schools and businesses over coronavirus spread; lockdown till March 31

A view of the Causeway at Woodlands on March 17, 2020. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced on Monday night (March 16) measures to restrict movement nationwide, starting from March 18 until 31, in a bid to stem the rising number of coronavirus cases.

"The government has decided to implement a movement control order, starting March 18, 2020, that is, the day after tomorrow until March 31, 2020, nationwide," he said in an address to the nation telecast live.

"I hope that you will be patient in facing this challenge. Do not panic, do not be anxious, and stay calm. I believe that with these measures by the government, we will be able to combat the spread of this outbreak soon."

He urged everyone to abide by the order, adding that the national security council will meet daily to monitor the situation.

He also said that food and medical supplies including face masks will be sufficient.

The order includes a ban on mass gatherings, including religious, sports, social and cultural events.

All houses of worship and businesses are to close, except supermarkets, markets, mini markets and convenience stores, with Friday prayers suspended for Muslims, in line with a decree by the King earlier on Monday.

All Malaysians will be barred from travelling abroad. For those who are returning from overseas, they must undergo a health inspection and undergo self-quarantine for 14 days.

There will also be a ban on all foreign tourists and visitors.

All schools and universities will be closed.

All government and private premises will be closed except those in essential services, including water, electricity, energy, telecommunications, postal services, transport, oil and gas, broadcasting, finance, banking, healthcare, pharmacies, fire department, prisons, ports, airports, security, defence, cleaning and food supplies.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.