Penang restricts outdoor activities as air quality reaches unhealthy level

Opalyn Mok
General view of a hazy George Town September 12, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

GEORGE TOWN, Sept 12 — The Penang state government has ordered the cancellation of all outdoor activities and sports in view of the worsening haze situation in the state.

Penang state exco Phee Boon Poh said the Air Pollutant Index (API) for the southwest side of the island was at 137 earlier today, within the “unhealthy” band of 101-199.

“We are entering day eight of the haze situation and the state exco has decided that all state assemblymen will be giving out masks to the public especially children and senior citizens,” he said in a press conference at the Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow’s office today.

He said the state has ordered around 100,000 masks to be distributed immediately.

“We are unable to order more as the masks are out of stock so these will be distributed to those more susceptible to unhealthy air conditions such as young children and senior citizens,” he said.

General view of a hazy George Town September 12, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

He also said the public was advised to avoid outdoor activities and exposure during the haze.

Chow said the state exco Soon Lip Chee has also issued a directive that all outdoor sports be cancelled in view of the haze.

As for schools, Phee said the Education Ministry has given similar instructions to schools to limit outdoor activities for the students.

“The ministry will monitor the situation and order the schools to close if the haze situation worsened with API readings of more than 200,” he said.

Phee also warned the public to stop open burning during this period as it will aggravate the situation.

“Strict action will be taken against anyone caught conducting open burning now,” he said.

General view of a hazy George Town September 12, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

He also advised those with conditions such as asthma to seek immediate medical attention if the haze was affecting them.

As at 2pm, the API readings in Balik Pulau is at 136, Minden is at 109, Seberang Jaya at 93 and Seberang Perai at 89.

The Meteorological Department recorded the visibility in Butterworth and Bayan Lepas at 5,000m as at 1pm.

API readings are categorised as good for between 0 and 50, moderate for between 51 and 100, unhealthy for between 101 and 200, very unhealthy between 201 and 300 and hazardous if more than 301.

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