18 Mar 2020 - 3 min read
On Monday (March 16), Malaysia Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced a Movement Control Order from March 18 until March 31. It’s taken as a measure to tackle the current COVID-19 outbreak in the country. The order also called for Malaysians to be barred from traveling abroad and for all foreign tourists to be barred from entering the country. But, what does it really mean? We’ll break it down for you, in bite-sized pieces to help you stay calm in these uncertain times.
*All information is correct during publication
I’m a Malaysian living or holidaying overseas. Can I return to Malaysia during this restriction period?
While all Malaysians are barred from leaving the country during this Movement Control Order period, Malaysians who are overseas are allowed to return to the country. However, they must perform health checks and conduct a period of self-quarantine for 14 days. The same goes if you’re a Malaysian and your spouse holds a different citizenship. Tourists and foreign visitors are barred from entering the country.
I’m a foreigner living or holidaying in Malaysia. Can I leave the country to go back to my home country?
Foreigners are allowed to leave Malaysia to return to their respective countries. However, they are not to return to Malaysia as long as the Movement Control Order is in effect.
I’m a foreigner working in Malaysia but left the country before the order was issued. Can I still return to Malaysia during this restriction period?
Only those working in the essential service sectors are allowed to return. You must obtain a letter of confirmation from your employers and it has to be presented to the Malaysian Immigration Department upon your return.
I’m a Malaysian working in Singapore or Thailand. Can I still commute to work?
The Movement Control Order applies to all Malaysians working in Singapore and Thailand. Those who work in the neighboring countries but live in Malaysia are not allowed to go in and out on a daily basis. Those who are affected are advised to find accommodation in their respective working countries during this 14-day period.
14 days is a long time to spend at home alone. Can I go back to my hometown to visit my parents?
The Movement Control Order is called to curb the rise of COVID-19 cases. You’re advised to stay home, stay away from large gatherings, and practice social distancing. It is imperative that you do not travel back to your hometowns as this will increase the risk of spreading the virus to other states. Work from home, not work from kampung!
I heard that we need to apply for a permit to travel between states. Is this true?
While the Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador announced that those who want to travel to other states will need a permit, the police have since backtracked on their decision to restrict inter-state traveling. This follows the large crowd that gathered at the police station to seek permission to travel out of their state. Currently, there are no restrictions to travel between states. However, the police chief has advised people to stay home and limit their travel.
Are there any states that ban traveling in and out of the state?
Currently, you’re free to travel domestically. However, the Sabah government has imposed immigration restriction orders on non-Sabahan residents and tourists. Malaysians who want to visit Sabah are restricted and will not be allowed to enter through land, sea and water. You can only enter Sabah if you have special approval from the state government and medical certificates from hospitals to prove that you’re not infected with COVID-19.
If you’re planning to visit Sarawak, do put your plans on hold as all foreign, domestic visitors and returning Sarawakians will be issued with a 14-day Stay Home Notice. This includes Sarawak residents, long-term and short-term pass holders. Exemptions will only be given by the State Health Department to those who are required to travel under special circumstances such as official and business duties.
Why is the Movement Control Order necessary?
At the moment, the number of COVID-19 cases worldwide is reaching 200,000 and there are 7,987 deaths reported so far. The number of cases has continued to increase in the past weeks. In Malaysia, there are 673 confirmed cases and two deaths as reported on March 17.
As seen in China and Italy, the spread of COVID-19 can happen very quickly. The Movement Control Order will help to decrease local transmission in the country as the priority is to reduce the number of new cases. This can be achieved by enforcing social distancing. If you are still unclear about the order and have any concerns, you can call the hotline at 03-8888 2010.
In order to flatten the curve, let’s do our part by adhering to the order and to avoid unnecessary traveling if possible. If you really can’t avoid traveling during this period, check out our article on How to travel safely during the Coronavirus outbreak. Stay safe, practice social distancing and remember to wash your hands!