Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin tonight announced a nationwide restricted movement order from Wednesday until March 31, 2020 to deal with the spike in COVID-19 cases.

In a special address broadcast on Astro Awani, RTM, TV3 and BernamaTV, he said the government’s priority now is to avoid the spread of new infections, which will affect more people.

“Therefore, drastic action needs to be taken. The government has decided to implement ‘restriction of movement order’ under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 and the Police Act 1967 starting from March 18 to March 31,” he said.

Muhyiddin said this means that all business premises have to be shut down during the period except for outlets such as supermarkets and grocery stores selling daily essentials and essential services such as utilities, telecommunications, broadcasting, transport, banking, health, pharmacies, ports, airports, cleaning and food supplies.

At the same, he added, all Malaysians will be banned from travelling abroad, and that no tourists or foreigners will be allowed to enter the country.

Malaysians returning home from abroad are also required to undergo health screening and a 14-day self-quarantine.

The Prime Minister elaborated: “This Movement Control Order includes the general prohibition of mass movements and gatherings across the country including religious, sports, social and cultural activities.

To enforce this prohibition, all houses of worship and business premises should be closed, except for supermarkets, public markets, grocery stores and convenience stores selling everyday necessities.

“Specifically for Muslims, the adjournment of all religious activities in mosques including Friday prayers is in line with the decision of the Special Mental Health Committee meeting on March 15, 2020,” he said.

The restrictions also include the closure of all kindergartens, government and private schools including daily schools, boarding schools, international schools, tahfiz centers and other primary, secondary and pre-university institutions besides the closure of all public and private higher education institutions (IPTs) and skills training institutes nationwide.

Muhyiddin also stressed the need to close all government and private premises except those involved in essential services (water, electricity, energy, telecommunications, postal, transportation, irrigation, oil, gas, fuel, lubricants, broadcasting, finance, banking, health, pharmacy, fire, prison, port, airport, safety, defense, cleaning, retail and food supply.

“I realize that my brothers and sisters may feel that the actions taken by this Government create difficulties in our daily lives.

“However, this action must be taken by the government to curb the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak which is likely to endanger the lives of the people of the country.

“We have seen a rapid increase in the Covid-19 outbreak from tens of thousands of people infected with the virus to thousands of people over time.

“We can't wait any longer until things get worse. Drastic action should be taken immediately to prevent the spread of the disease by limiting the movement of the public. This is the only way we can prevent more people from being infected by the outbreaks that can destroy lives.

“I hope my brothers and sisters will be able to endure this challenge. Don't panic, don't worry, and stay calm. I believe with the measures of movement restrictions implemented by the government, we will be able to block the spread of this outbreak in the near future.

“I urge (the rakyat) to always obey this Order of Control. It is our collective responsibility that we must carry out as citizens who care about our families, our communities and our country,” he said.