Covid-19: MCO, a tightening situation

Following a special meeting of the National Security Council on 21 May 2021, the Malaysian Government announced that the ongoing nationwide movement control order would be tightened from 25 May 2021 to 7 June 2021. The Government’s decision to tighten the existing movement control order (“MCO”) was due to the recent significant spike of Covid-19 cases in the country, where the number of new Covid-19 cases has breached the 6,000-mark for each of the previous six consecutive days.
This Alert focuses on the general standard operating procedures (“SOPs”) affecting businesses (including restrictions of movement affecting such activities) under the tightened MCO. The full list of restrictions and prohibitions, including education, religious activities, meetings/seminars, sports and recreation as well as general health protocols can be accessed here. The full list of SOPs affecting the economic activities can be found here.
Businesses and Services
The operating hours of most business premises have been reduced. Businesses that are now allowed to operate from 8.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m. include –
  1. restaurants and food premises where only take-away and delivery are permitted;
  2. grocery stores, convenience stores, shops selling daily necessities;
  3. outlets in shopping malls and supermarkets (booths/exhibitions in hallways are not allowed);
  4. veterinarians and pet shops;
  5. launderettes (including self-service laundrettes);
  6. optical shops;
  7. car wash services;
  8. barber shops and hair saloons where only haircuts are permitted; and
  9. cyber cafes and cyber centres.
Healthcare facilities such as hospitals, clinics and medical laboratories are allowed to operate for 24 hours, or in accordance with their respective operating licences, while pharmacies are allowed to operate from 8.00 a.m. to 10.00 p.m. Petrol stations are allowed to operate from 6.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m., except for petrol stations along highways which are allowed to operate on a 24-hour basis.
Wet markets, day markets, public markets and weekly markets are allowed to operate from 6.00 a.m. to 2.00 p.m., wholesale markets from 12.01 a.m. to 6.00 a.m. and 11.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m., and night markets from 4.00 p.m. to 8.00 p.m., in each case, subject to the local authorities’ regulations.
Spa and reflexology facilities, massage centres, wellness, pedicure and manicure services, nightclubs, pubs and cinemas are prohibited from operating during the tightened MCO.
Theme parks, family entertainment centres, indoor playgrounds and karaoke centres are also prohibited from operating, as are tourism activities involving the entry of foreign tourists into Malaysia.
The plantation, fisheries, agriculture, livestock and all other sectors related to the food supply chain are allowed to operate.
Reduced capacity at offices
The number of staff allowed in government offices (excluding service frontliners) is limited to 20% of the total staff (with 80% working from home), whilst attendance in private sector offices is limited to 60% (with 40% working from home).
Control of movement
Interstate or inter district travels are prohibited during the tightened MCO.
The number of passengers in a private vehicle, taxi or e-hailing service is limited to three passengers, including the driver. The number of persons in a goods vehicle as well as for the economic or industry activity chain will be based on the commercial registration licence of the vehicle.
Public land and sea transportation, such as bus services, LRT, MRT, ERL, monorail and ferries may operate at 50% capacity, subject to operating hours and frequency determined by the Ministry of Transport.
Movement by short-term business visitors approved under the One Stop Centre Initiative for an official reason or for business is permitted with approval from the police.  
The prohibitions and restrictions imposed under the tightened MCO are substantially similar to those under the previous MCO except for reduced operating hours for businesses and the imposition of specific capacity limits for staff at work premises. Although many Malaysians have voiced their concerns on the efficacy of the latest movement control measures, it is hoped that the reduction in the number of people in offices and public places as well as on public transportation in consequence of these measures will bring down the infectivity rate in the country.

While the Malaysian Government is responsible for keeping the Covid-19 situation under control, measures undertaken are limited due to the Government’s concern that drastic measures, such as a total lockdown, will cause irreparable harm to the economy and the livelihood of Malaysians. 

The burden now falls on the citizens, on an individual level, to observe stricter restrictions on their own accord. Our only hope to emerge victorious from this long-haul battle against Covid-19 now rests on the shoulders of each and every Malaysian.
Alert prepared by Tan Wei Liang (Associate) and Tai Kean Lynn (Associate) of Skrine.