Sunday, 25 Jul 2021

Malaysia to propose easing Covid-19 controls on fully-vaccinated after Hari Raya

KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia will announce plans to ease restrictions for those who have been full-vaccinated against Covid-19, after the Hari Raya Haji celebrations.

While the regulations are still under review, this could mean that 4.5 million people, or about 20 per cent of the adult population, may be allowed to travel beyond the current 10km-radius limit or dine in at restaurants.

These activities are currently banned under the full movement control order implemented in most states since June 1.

“We will give leeway. The technical committee is studying the proposal thoroughly on individuals as well as the business sectors allowed to be involved in the relaxation of restrictions,” Deputy Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said Monday (July 19).

The authorities are on alert this week for people breaching travel curbs and social distancing rules in order to celebrate Hari Raya Haji, which falls on Tuesday.

Nearly 15 million vaccine doses have been administered nationwide so far, with about 10 million people having received at least one jab. The government estimates that 40 per cent of the total population will be inoculated by the end of August, and all adults will have received both doses by the end of October.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Sunday the government intends to further accelerate the Covid-19 immunisation programme with 500,000 jabs daily, from the current average of over 400,000 shots.

To this end, vaccination centres in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor – which have collectively contributed half of the country’s recent Covid-19 cases – will from Aug 1 begin allowing individuals without appointments to walk-in for their first doses.

Malaysia’s vaccination drive – among the fastest in the world – comes amid a sustained spike in cases, with five-digit new daily infections recorded for the past week. Another 10,972 patients were added on Monday to bring the tally to 927,533.

Although data shows that the recent surge has plateaued, it is still likely that Malaysia will breach the one million case mark this month as the rate of transmission registered at 1.15 on Sunday. It was last below 1 – which indicates reducing infections – on June 27.

Another 129 lives were lost to the pandemic on Monday, an eighth consecutive day of three-digit deaths, bringing the death tally to 7,148.

Police said there was no unusual volume of traffic leaving the capital Kuala Lumpur on Monday, the eve of festivities.

This comes after the authorities suspended from July 18 to July 21 the use of interstate travel permits issued to those allowed to travel for work, after nearly 5,000 vehicles were turned back at state borders last Friday.

Enforcement has been stepped up to avoid a repeat of clusters linked to May’s Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations, during which officials claimed “hundreds of thousands” abused interstate travel permits to visit their hometowns.

Police said on Monday that more than 13,000 vehicles were ordered to turn back over the last three days because they did not have proper documents.

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