Malaysia Extends Covid-19 Lockdown

Nationwide curbs will only be eased once daily case numbers fall below 4,000 and 10 percent of the population is fully vaccinated.

The Petronas Twin Towers and downtown Kuala Lumpur at dusk. (Photo: Esmonde Yong/Unsplash)

With new coronavirus cases still averaging more than 5,000 a day despite a month-long lockdown (a.k.a. Movement Control Order), Malaysia’s Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Sunday that current social distancing restrictions, due to expire today, would be continued for an indefinite period of time. While inter-district and interstate travel remain prohibited, and sports and in-person educational activities are off-limits, operating hours for restaurants are being extended from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., an increase on the 12-hour window (8 a.m. to 8 p.m.) allowed under the previous Movement Control Order.

Senior Minister for Defence Ismail Sabri Yaakob added that the lockdown rules would only be relaxed when three conditions are met, namely if the count of new Covid-19 infections declines below 4,000 per day, the bed occupancy rate at ICUs falls to a “moderate” level, and 10 percent of the national population have been fully vaccinated against the virus.

According to state news agency Bernama, nearly 7.4 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine have so far been administered in Malaysia as of yesterday (June 27), and a little over 2 million residents have already received their second shot, representing about 6.5 percent of the total population. It’s expected that the 10 percent vaccination target will be reached only by mid-July, providing a reasonable estimate for when the MCO might be relaxed. Malaysia is now drawing up a multi-phase exit strategy that will see the economy partially reopen by the end of August, with a full reopening slated for November.

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