KUALA LUMPUR, 17 Mac (Bernama) — The government’s decision in placing the country under nationwide movement control order from March 18 to March 31 due to the COVID-19 outbreak is an apt move, said a political scientist.
Therefore, Prof Datuk Dr Nasarudin Mohammed said, it was now the responsibility of the people to play their role, especially in ensuring compliance with all the directives and restrictions imposed during the period.
He said the people need to understand that the movement control order was temporary and aimed to restrict the movement of the public to curb the spread of the disease.
“First and foremost, the public should not be panic-stricken, instead to remain calm and comply with all the instructions that have been given. It is not a curfew order, but just a restriction on movement.
“Just stay home and go out when it is permissible. The message is clear, reduce movement to the minimum possible to deactivate COVID-19, ”he told Bernama.
The declaration of the nationwide movement control order by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin last night, among others, entails comprehensive restriction on movements and public gatherings, including religious, sports, social and cultural activities.
With the enforcement of the order, all houses of worship and business premises should be closed, except for supermarkets, wet markets, grocery shops and convenience stores selling daily necessities
It also involves a comprehensive restriction on Malaysians travelling abroad. For those who have just returned from overseas, they are required to undergo a health check and to self-quarantine for 14 days.
The restriction also covers the entry of foreign tourists and visitors into the country.
The order also means that the closure of child-care centres, government and private schools, fully residential schools, international schools, tahfiz centres, private and public institutions of higher learning and skills training institutes in the country.
The closure also involves government and private premises, except for those providing essential services, namely water, electricity, energy, telecommunications, postal, transport, irrigation, oil, gas, fuel, lubricants, broadcasting, finance, banking, health, pharmacy, fire brigade , prison, port, airport, security, defense, cleaning, retail and food supplies.
However, Nasruddin said, movement’s control order would not be fully effective in curbing the spread of COVID-19 if the people do not take the restriction seriously.
Hence the need to impose a heavy penalty on the errant ones to discipline them, he added.
He expressed the need for the government. through the mass media, to provide information and guidance on consumerism, health, home security and preparedness for the people during the movement control period as being done by other countries affected by COVID-19.
The government , he said, should also provide assistance or incentives, like allowances, discount for retail purchase, distribution of medicines and food.
Other form of assistance that the government could consider, he said, included cooking gas subsidy, postpone payment of utility bills and taxes.
If possible, the salary and pension payment for March should be disbursed early, he said, adding that the government should come up with a recovery plan to help the workers whose income is affected by the movement control order.