Ismail: Movement increase temporary, due to release of govt aid

PUTRAJAYA: The increase in movement and number of vehicles on the road earlier this week is only temporary, according to Senior Minister (Defence) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob (pix).

He said this was largely due to Malaysians visiting their respective financial institutions to withdraw the cash aid that were currently being disbursed by the government into their bank accounts in stages beginning April 6.

“The assistance under the government’s economic stimulus package have started to roll out, which is why we are seeing increased volume of people in certain areas and on the road.

“I believe this will only be temporary, as the situation has began to calm down. And if there are still people wanting to withdraw money and what not, please practise safe social distancing,” he said in his daily press conference, here, today.

Ismail Sabri was responding to Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah’s statement on Wednesday expressing concerns over increased number of vehicles on the road, highlighting high movements.

To illustrate his point, Ismail pointed out that the number of individuals arrested on Wednesday for violating the MCO has dropped significantly compared to the first two days of the week.

“Yesterday (Wednesday), the police nabbed 300 individuals. This is a 34% drop compared to Tuesday, when there were 454 arrests,” he said. On Monday, 403 were arrested.

Following Wednesday’s figures, Ismail said the cumulative number of those who have been arrested since the MCO was implemented on March 18 was 7,205.

Meanwhile, Ismail said the enhanced MCO (EMCO) that was imposed on Simpang Renggam in Johor, which was supposed to end yesterday, has been extended to April 14, to iron out all concerns arising from there.

He also reiterated that when the MCO is eventually lifted, certain measures and standard operating procedure (SOP) would still be in place to ensure there is no risk of a new Covid-19 outbreak.

For one, he said large gatherings would still be prohibited for a certain period, until it is declared that it is completely safe to do so.

“Even when the MCO ends, the rakyat can’t be free to do as they wish. Certain SOPs must be adhered.

“There have been even talks of having convocation ceremonies. Even this we won’t allow. Any activities that gather a large group of people at the same time will not be allowed,” he said.

On whether there have been any decision yet to extend the MCO, Ismail said it would be made by the Health Ministry, and that as long as there are no new announcements, the period remains until April 14.