Malaysia to ease some coronavirus curbs and resume business

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin says most businesses will be able to reopen on May 4, but ban on gatherings to remain.

Malaysia will relax coronavirus curbs from May 4, allowing most businesses to reopen providing maintain social-distancing guidelines [Fazry Ismail/EPA]

Malaysia will allow the majority of businesses to re-open from May 4, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said in a special televised address on Friday, easing restrictions that were imposed six weeks ago to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.

Muhyiddin said the “sacrifices made” during the lockdown were “not in vain” and noted the slowdown in coronavirus cases and increase in recoveries.

Malaysia is loosening its lockdown and edging back towards normality as the number of daily coronavirus cases slows and recoveries increase.  

Malaysia shut all non-essential businesses and schools, banned public gatherings and restricted travel from March 18 as the number of coronavirus cases in the country rose. Muhyiddin said the lockdown, which was enforced even more strictly in a number of areas when large clusters were found, was estimated to have cost the country 63 billion ringgit ($14.7 billion). 

Confirmed cases in Malaysia stood at 6,002 as of Thursday with 102 deaths. The pace of new cases has slowed in recent days, with 57 cases reported on April 30, 25 of them among travellers returning from overseas.

From Monday, businesses are encouraged to allow employees to continue to work from home and maintain effective social distancing for those that do need to be in the office, while restaurants and cafes will have to ensure tables are kept two metres apart and the names of all customers are recorded.

Sports events, including football matches, group religious activities and entertainment like cinemas, nightclubs and food bazaars, which could draw large crowds, would not be allowed to resume, Muhyiddin added. Schools and colleges will also remain closed.

Malaysia;s Movement Control Order included enhanced measures in certain hotspots which were quarantined with every resident tested [Ahmad Yusni/EPA]

The prime minister said that despite the relaxation in the lockdown, people would still not be allowed to move across states unless for work purposes.

The country’s Muslims will also not be allowed to undertake their traditional trip home at the end of the Ramadan fasting month.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies