KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 3 — Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob today sought to clear the confusion surrounding the government’s mandatory face mask rule, which created a buzz on the first day of its enforcement, which was Saturday.
During his press briefing in Parliament, Ismail Sabri stressed the importance of wearing a face mask and practising physical distancing, to prevent a spike in Covid-19 infections.
He also clarified the definition of public places and crowded public places.
“I want us to be clear, firstly on public transportation. That’s clear. Such as express buses, the LRT, trains, the hop-on hop-off buses. All public transportation. Taxi, e-hailing. These are all forms of public transportation.
“And secondly, public places. The list of such places has already been published on the National Security Council website, such as wet markets. I want to mention types of crowded public places, wet markets, farmers’ markets, which are all available on the NSC website. Night markets and supermarkets too.
“Places which are tourist spots and cinemas which have also been listed as crowded public areas. Likewise, public places which are crowded. If we only say ‘public places only’, then football fields are public spots. However, if there is physical distancing that is well spaced-out on the field, there is no need for masks. That’s why we say tempat awam yang sesak,” he said.
Ismail Sabri added that while face masks are not mandatory in wide, open spaces or where there is good physical distancing, the government encourages people to wear face masks when going out.
He pointed to a statement from the Ministry of Health (MOH), which he said had highlighted a “100 per cent” chance of preventing Covid-19 infection, should one wear a face mask and observe physical distancing.
Ismail Sabri also explained the face mask regulation for children, especially those below two years of age.
“Children below two years old, on the NSC website, it is clear; no need to wear face masks. Two-year-old children, if they wear face masks, I’m afraid they might ‘drown’ (lemas). Maybe those who are asleep, they might just ‘drown’,” he added.
On July 23, Ismail Sabri said that the wearing of face masks in crowded areas and on public transportation would now be mandatory starting August 1.
He said the recent increase in Covid-19 infections has proven to be worrying, in light of reports by the MOH that public adherence to the standard operating procedures in public is beginning to decline.
He said the decision was motivated by the increase in clusters recently identified by the ministry.