PETALING JAYA: After over a month of restrictions, it was like a breath of fresh air to hear Malaysians can now go out in twos to buy food and other daily essentials.
This is part of the government’s approach to ease restrictions under the fourth phase of the movement control order (MCO).
However, the relaxed regulation is only applicable to two members of the same family staying under the same roof.
This is according to the latest Federal Gazette, namely the Prevention and Control of Infectious Disease (Measures Within Infected Local Areas) (No. 4) Regulations 2020, that was uploaded on the Attorney-General’s Chambers website.
Under the “conditions for movement”, it is stipulated that persons moving from one place to another to buy goods “may be accompanied by one family member staying in the same house”.
This is specifically for the purchase of food, medicine, dietary supplements, daily necessities or any other goods under essential services.
The public is still only allowed to travel within a 10km radius or to the nearest outlet from their homes to make such purchases.
Previously, individuals were not allowed to travel with company unless it was reasonably necessary.
To maintain control of movement, the Gazette states that food operators can only carry out their businesses by way of drive-through, take-away or delivery.
For those seeking healthcare or medical services, the previous provision still applies – a person may be accompanied by another (not necessarily family members), only when reasonably necessary.
In an immediate response, senior consultant paediatrician Datuk Dr Amar Singh H.S.S. said the move to allow two in a family in the same household to go out is the right call as there should be progressive relaxation of the MCO.
“Creating ‘family bubbles’ like this and not allowing people to mix with other outsiders should be supported. It is safe because if one is not affected by the virus, then it is safe to assume others in the same house are also clear,” he told theSun.
However, Amar said his biggest concern would be overcrowding in public areas, like supermarkets and restaurants, as now the number of people at these places will double.
“It is now the responsibility of the public to ensure everyone is safe. For instance, what they can do is when purchasing food, only one should enter the restaurant while the other waits in the car,” he suggested.
Amar warned that with the easing of restrictions, the number of new cases could increase if the public does not practice caution and responsibility, adding that it is pertinent that Malaysians keep the curve low to ensure the Health Ministry is able to cope.
The updated Gazette was endorsed by Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba, with the new provision taking effect from yesterday.
The easing of restrictions comes in light of a drop in the number of new daily Covid-19 cases. Only 31 new cases were recorded on Tuesday, compared to the three-digit daily average earlier this month.
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