Minister: Mandatory Use of Face Masks from Aug 1

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The government made the ruling following the increase of Covid-19 cases for the past three days and lack of compliance on standard operating procedure (SOP) among the public.

The use of face masks in crowded public areas and public transport will be made compulsory from Aug 1, said Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

The Senior Minister (Security) said those who do not comply with the ruling can be fined or prosecuted in court.

He said the government made the ruling following the increase of Covid-19 cases for the past three days and lack of compliance on standard operating procedure (SOP) among the public.

“Members of the public would need to wear a face mask when taking the bus or LRT or at crowded sites like markets where social distancing is not observed,” he said.

This comes days after Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said the government was considering making the use of face masks mandatory in public.

“The public can use home-made face masks as long as it follows the specifications set by the World Health Organisation. The health ministry will distribute these specifications,” Isamil Sabri told a press conference in Putrajaya today.

Those who do not comply can be compounded RM1,000 under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988.

“We are seeing an increase in the double digits after having single-digit increments.

“The Health Ministry has reported that this is happening because of a lack of compliance with the standard operating procedure (SOP).

“The SOP states that you must wear a mask when taking public transportation, especially if there is no social distancing.

“But we observe that on the LRT, in buses, including in planes, people are not using masks even though they are sitting close to each other.”

On a related matter, Ismail said many restaurant and hawker stall operators had failed to enforce social distancing at their premises. This has resulted in patrons seating very close to each other.

“And this can lead to an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases. In fact, there is a restaurant cluster already in Brickfields, all because social distancing was not observed.”

Ismail said police will now monitor restaurants nationwide and stern action would be taken against errant operators, including shutting down the restaurant, if customers do not observe social distancing or owners do not enforce it.

He also said the mandatory quarantine for Malaysians and non-Malaysians entering the country from abroad will begin tomorrow as the National Security Council has also decided on several other related aspects.

“In addition to having those undergoing quarantine to pay the screening costs and the duration of their stay at the centre or hotel, the council has also decided to permit any children under 12 years of age who travelled with their parents, to stay in the same room.

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“Those who wish for their children to share the same room as them must first sign an agreement letter, detailing that they understand the risks of infection should they choose to do so,” Ismail said.

Similarly for sponsored students flying back from abroad, he said they must request their sponsors to cover the costs of quarantining.

“Students from B40 families may apply to be exempted from having to pay the costs. Disabled persons flying in will likewise be exempted from having to pay the costs,” Ismail said.

Asked whether the number of visitors for Hari Raya Aidiladha will be limited, Ismail Sabri said the government has not made such a decision.

“However, if there is a significant spike in cases and the Health Ministry advises as such, we will look into the matter.

“The government’s decision and ruling can change based on the latest development,” he added.