Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has announced the government’s long-awaited decision on the rules for wearing face masks indoors. Malaysia had already removed the mask mandate for outdoor areas since May, but up until now, you still had to cover up when in a closed space, unless you’re eating.
Well, that’s no longer the case as, effective immediately, wearing masks indoors will only be optional in most situations, but there are some exceptions. Regardless, this has effectively removed one of the remaining remnants of the lockdown period, inching Malaysians closer to pre-COVID normality.
The face mask mandate remains mandatory for when you enter any health care facility such as hospitals, clinics, or nursing homes — this is understandable given how many in those facilities are vulnerable. Additionally, commuters taking e-hailing or public transport like the bus or train will also have to mask up, which is another smart move considering how cramped it can get.
Of course, you will also have to wear a face mask if you have tested positive for COVID-19, whereas those at high-risk areas are still encouraged to keep wearing their masks, though this will be their choice. And speaking of choices, business owners may still opt to enforce a mandatory mask rule within their premises if they wish to do so.
Today I announced face masks indoors will be optional effective immediately. However, it’s still mandatory in all health care facilities (hospitals, clinics, nursing homes etc) and in public transport. High-risks individuals encouraged to keep their masks on.
— Khairy Jamaluddin (@Khairykj) September 7, 2022
The decision seems to be a major turnaround from July, when Khairy basically warned that the ministry might have to start issuing compounds again to those who flock the indoor masking rules after cases began surging. Whether indoors or outdoors, the Ministry of Health (MoH) urges anyone in crowded spaces or with symptoms to wear masks.
While it seems that the government has done away with most restrictions, it’s important to remember that the country is still in the endemic transition phase and has yet to achieve endemicity. While most of the population has been vaccinated and boosted, the MoH is still reporting over thousands of daily cases, so we are definitely not out of the woods just yet.
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