Malaysia continues to enforce restrictions nationwide as of Oct. 30, with stricter protocols in some localities, to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Movement controls known as recovery movement control order (RMCO) remain in effect in most parts of Malaysia through Dec. 31, despite the continued easing of some measures. Under RMCO, most businesses can operate, though public places where social distancing controls are hard to enforce, like nightclubs, remain closed. Sporting events can occur, provided organizers observe certain guidelines. Most interstate travel is permitted. Food outlets and convenience stores can operate until 0200 nightly. Public transport can operate with protocols in place, such as requiring passengers to undergo temperature checks and wear facemasks. The use of facemasks also remains compulsory in crowded public places, such as markets, though officials are urging residents to wear facemasks in public to the extent possible. Authorities continue to discourage mass gatherings. Violations are punishable by fines of up to MYR 1,000 (USD 240).
The central government is enforcing more stringent protocols in several locations due to high local COVID-19 activity in those areas. The conditional movement control order (CMCO) is ongoing in Sabah and Selangor states and Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya federal territories through at least Nov. 9, and Labuan through at least Nov. 13. While curbs differ by locality, typical CMCO restrictions include banning entry and exit from the locations and interdistrict travel, as well as suspending all educational institutions, places of worship, and cultural, recreational, and sporting activities. Only two persons from each household may leave their homes at a time to obtain essential supplies. Additionally, the enhanced movement control order (EMCO), which is stricter than both RMCO and CMCO, is in effect in several localities as of Oct. 30. The areas currently enforcing EMCO include Kunak, Lahad Datu, Semporna, and Tawau districts in southeast Sabah State, as well as several housing estates in Hulu Langat and Kuala Langat, Selangor State, and Sarawak State's Kuching. While measures under EMCO may also vary by location, typical controls include stay-home orders, a ban on entry and exit from the affected areas, as well as the suspension of all educational institutions, places of worship, and cultural, recreational, and sporting activities. The central authorities may extend stricter curbs in some locations or expand the protocols to additional areas, depending on local COVID-19 activity.
Several state governments are maintaining additional statewide restrictions on top of those mandated by the central authorities. Some states may also require other businesses, such as hair salons and night markets, to remain closed. Additional curbs include limiting business operation hours, though exemptions are likely for essential services. Central or state authorities may implement or reintroduce restrictions in the coming weeks if COVID-19 cases increase.
Most foreigners remain banned from entering Malaysia; exemptions are in place for resident diplomats, foreign spouses and dependents of Malaysian citizens, long-term pass holders, and expatriate employees working in essential industries and their dependents, among others. Arriving expatriate employees must present an approval letter from authorities. Travelers must test for COVID-19 upon arrival. Those testing positive will undergo treatment at medical facilities, while those testing negative will quarantine for 14 days at designated locations. Travelers must also download the MySejahtera contact tracing application. Foreigners may transit at Malaysian airports as long as they do not pass through immigration points. Malaysian nationals remain banned from traveling abroad, with limited exceptions. Emergency repatriation of citizens may occur on a case-by-case basis.
Malaysia allows limited crossborder travel with Singapore for business and official purposes. Under the Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) scheme, people can travel short-term from Singapore to Malaysia with an exemption from normal quarantine requirements for arrivals. The travelers must present approval letters from immigration authorities and a company or government agency in Malaysia, obtain visas if required, and test for COVID-19 within 72 hours before travel and upon arrival. Such travelers must comply with a controlled itinerary for the first 14 days and contact tracing measures. Additionally, in the Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA) scheme for long-term work visa holders, only people traveling to Johor State can quarantine at their residence or accommodations for seven days upon arrival, while those going to other Malaysian states must isolate at government-designated facilities for a week. Travelers can leave the quarantine sites upon testing negative for COVID-19. The PCA program allows the travelers to undertake multiple-entry visits through land border crossings at Woodlands or Tuas for 90-day stays once their applications are approved. Travelers are eligible for a home leave of two to four weeks after every minimum stay of 90 days in the country where they work.
Background and Analysis
COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.
Follow all official health and safety measures. Ensure contingency plans account for additional disruptive controls or further extensions of current restrictions. Postpone travel if affected by travel restrictions. Confirm flight status before checking out of accommodation and departing for the airport. Follow all official instructions, particularly if traveling from affected locations. Allow additional time for immigration and health screenings at all ports of entry. Consider delaying travel if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays.
Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.