Malaysia expands partial lockdown

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Shoppers wearing protective masks shop at a market, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia November 6, 2020. REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng

Malaysia has imposed a month-long “conditional movement order” in most states as the number of daily coronavirus cases hit a record on Friday.

The restrictions will end on Dec 6, Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob told reporters on Saturday. The partial lockdown in Kuala Lumpur, as well as the states of Selangor and Sabah, will also be extended when it expires on Monday, he said.

The curbs won’t apply to the states of Perlis, Pahang and Kelantan in peninsular Malaysia, and the state of Sarawak on Borneo island, he said, without elaborating.

Under the “lockdown lite” regime, people can leave their homes only for essential tasks including grocery shopping, getting medicine and seeing a doctor. All economic, industrial and business activities are allowed to operate, but with strict adherence to standard operating procedures.

Restaurants will remain open for dine-in service but with a maximum of two people per table. Authorities encourage people to order take-away and delivery instead.

As well, employers must allow employees to work from home, should they choose to do so. Schools, meanwhile, must revert to online learning.

Malaysia on Friday reported 1,755 cases, the biggest daily rise since the start of the pandemic, despite the tighter movement restrictions. It has been struggling to contain a resurgence of infections that emerged in late September after local elections in Sabah.

The government had recently ordered about 1 million people to work from home, and banned all social and cultural activities to control the spread.

New infections have topped 1,000 a day for five straight days. The country on Saturday reported 1,168 new cases, bringing the cumulative total to 39,357, with 279 deaths.