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COVID-19: Face masks compulsory only in crowded public areas, says Malaysian minister

KUALA LUMPUR: The wearing of face masks is compulsory only in crowded public areas and on public transport, not in areas where physical distancing is possible, said Malaysia’s Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Ismail Sabri Yaakob on Monday (Aug 3).

Crowded public places include markets, farmers’ markets, night markets, supermarkets, tourist areas and cinemas, said Mr Ismail Sabri.

Face masks are not compulsory in private vehicles or during physical activities, he added.

Children aged two years and below are also exempted from the face mask rule.

READ: COVID-19: Face masks compulsory in Malaysia’s crowded public spaces, transportation from Aug 1

Mr Ismail Sabri’s comments came after reports circulated on social media of people being caught for not wearing masks in private vehicles.

“This (taking action) is not right. Private vehicles are not public transport. If you are travelling with family members or colleagues (in private vehicles), no action will be taken.

“As for public places, no mask is needed where physical distancing is possible. The wearing of face masks in wide spaces is not compulsory but encouraged,” said Mr Ismail Sabri.

He added that the police have agreed to cancel summons issued to those who did not wear face masks in private vehicles.

The face mask rule took effect on Aug 1. Individuals who flout the rule face a RM1,000 (US$235) fine.

The police issued compounds to 209 individuals for violating the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) on Sunday, said Mr Ismail Sabri.

Of those, 13 were involved in activities at pubs and nightclubs, 31 had operated their premises beyond the permitted hours, 50 were involved in activities that made physical distancing difficult and 115 for other activities that breached standard operating procedures.

READ: Measures for Singapore-Malaysia travel include minimum 7-day stay-home notice, COVID-19 test

Touching on contract tracing, Mr Ismail Sabri also said it is mandatory for business outlets to use the MySejahtera app, despite the availability of alternative apps such as SELangkah in Selangor.

“The MySejahtera (app) is compulsory. The Attorney-General will gazette its use,” he said.

Small towns and rural areas without Internet connection are exempted, with the manual recording of customers’ particulars allowed, Mr Ismail added.

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