Malaysia to loosen Covid-19 lockdown curbs, PM says in May Day speech – dpa international


Barista at work in Kuala Lumpur café during Malaysia's lockdown (Simon Roughneen)

Barista at work in Kuala Lumpur café during Malaysia’s lockdown (Simon Roughneen)

KUALA LUMPUR — Starting May 4, Malaysia will wind back restrictions aimed at stemming the spread of the new coronavirus, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Friday.

Acknowledging that curbs imposed since mid-March were hurting commerce, Muhyiddin said during a Labour Day speech that “we must find ways to balance between healing the nation’s economy and addressing Covid-19.”

A total of 6,002 people in Malaysia have contracted Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, with 102 people dying in thr country and more than 230,000 people globally.

Almost 70 per cent of people who tested positive in Malaysia have recovered, according to Ministry of Health data, with new case numbers dropping to an average of 57 a day over the past 10 days.

Muhyiddin said that businesses such as shops and restaurants would have to apply strict sanitary rules and social distancing after re-opening to dine-in customers.

Businesses where “body contact and social distancing will be difficult to exercise” will not re-open on May 4, Muhyiddin said, while mass gatherings will remain prohibited and open-air markets will have to stay closed.

Malaysia’s lockdown runs till May 12, ahead of which date the government will decide on any extension.

Officials have already said that Malaysia’s borders will stay closed after domestic restrictions are loosened.

The lockdown meant people had to remain indoors unless shopping for essentials or commuting to work. The curbs have been strictly-policed, with more than 21,000 arrests.

In contrast to most other lockdowns, people in Malaysia have been prohibited from exercising outdoors – such as walking or running – a ban that will be lifted, Muhyiddin said.

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