Malaysia’s movement control order (MCO) will be extended by two more weeks, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced on 24 March. It will begin from 29 April after the third phase ends on 28 April, and last to 12 May.
“Based on the data presented to me by the Ministry of Health (MOH), I find that efforts to curb the COVID 19 outbreak still need to be continued. While the figures show positive growth, the steps we take must continue to the point where we believe the COVID 19 outbreak can be fully prevented,” he said, before announcing the extension.
During this period, the government will evaluate data provided by the MOH, before determining the next steps, and PM Muhyiddin said he did not rule out the possibility of a further extension. “This means that relatives may not be able to celebrate the holidays in the village. Brothers and sisters still cannot work, except for those who work in the permissible sector. The business is still not fully open.”
However, the government is considering the possibility of granting one-time permission for Malaysians to return to their hometowns during this period. This permission will only be given to those who were stranded elsewhere before the start of the first MCO.
PM Muhyiddin also added that if the number of COVID-19 cases continues to see a significant decline, the government is likely to gradually relinquish control over several sectors including the social sector.
Short, medium and long-term Economic Recovery Plan in the works
Given the possibility of an extended control period, PM Muhyiddin highlighted that the government is currently studying ways to gradually “revive the economy”. This includes developing a short and medium-term Economic Recovery Plan to ensure economic activities can be “revived quickly” at the end of the control period.
“In this regard, I have directed the Ministry of Finance and the Economic Planning Unit, Prime Minister’s Department to develop a comprehensive short-term, medium and long-term Economic Recovery Plan.
“The focus now is to identify measures and initiatives that will stimulate short and medium-term economic growth, and encourage the confidence of the people and investors to revitalize the country.”
Some of the initiatives planned include building the capacity and skills of the people, promoting domestic spending, enhancing the resilience of industries including SMEs, and fostering a more positive investment environment for the future.
Further, in the event the control period is further extended, the government will allow certain companies to resume operations, subject to compliance with requirements that are essential to employee safety, social security, and workplace hygiene.
PM Muhyiddin explained: “Even now, several economic sectors have been opened. Subsequently, the government will consider opening other sectors and sub-sectors subject to stringent requirements. This is to ensure that the company remains competitive and that the employees can continue to work in a safe environment.
“Detailed guidelines and conditions will be given to investors and the corporate sector to start their respective companies’ operations.”