Putrajaya announces four-phase Covid-19 recovery plan for Malaysia, expects return to normalcy by end of year

·3-min read
People wearing face masks as a precaution against the spread of Covid-19 wait for a bus in Kuala Lumpur May 31, 2021. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
People wearing face masks as a precaution against the spread of Covid-19 wait for a bus in Kuala Lumpur May 31, 2021. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, June 15 — Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin today introduced a four-phase National Recovery Plan with three specific threshold indicators that will decide if and when Covid-19 pandemic restrictions are lifted in stages.

Each of these phases, Muhyiddin said, will be based on thresholds that will look at the daily Covid-19 case average numbers, the capacity of the public health system, and the vaccination rate of the general population.

“This phased approach begins with Phase One which is the implementation of a nationwide movement control order that is in effect now with Covid-19 cases numbers that are still high, the public health system which is at a critical level, and a vaccination rate which is still low,” he said during a speech broadcast over national television this evening.

Muhyiddin said each phase will see more restrictions towards economic activities and the social sector ease up as each of these thresholds reach a more satisfactory level, with the fourth and final phase expected to be imposed only towards the end of the year.

Under this plan, Malaysia is currently under Phase One, which will move to Phase Two by July if new cases dip to under 4,000, vaccination rate reaches 10 per cent, and intensive care unit’s usage falls to “moderate” level.

In Phase One, only essential services are allowed to operate while all social sectors and activities are barred, while Phase Two will see several more economic sectors such as the manufacturing industry allowed to operate with up to 80 per cent capacity.

“Social activities and interstate travel will still not be allowed,” he said, adding the government projects the country to move into Phase Two earliest by next month.

As for Phase Three, which is projected to be introduced earliest at end of August, Muhyiddin said the required threshold is for daily Covid-19 cases to drop below 2,000 cases, for the healthcare system to be at a comfortable load, and at least 40 per cent of the population already inoculated with their second vaccine dose.

In Phase Three, he said, all economic sectors will be allowed to operate barring those listed as high-risk activities such as nightclubs, pubs, conventions, spas, and beauty salons.

“All economic sectors will be allowed to operate with the 80 per cent maximum capacity like in Phase Two, and social activities including education and certain sporting activities can resume in stages.

“I would also like to declare my commitment that the Parliament session can be held during this phase that is around September or October by following tight SOPs.

“It is my stance from the beginning that Parliamentary democratic system can resume at an appropriate time, which is when Covid-19 cases are under control and we have almost achieved herd immunity,” he said.

Considerations can begin to move into Phase Four, Muhyiddin said, once the daily Covid-19 numbers drop below the 500-cases mark, while the healthcare system and ICU bed usage are at a secure level, and once at least 60 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated.

“Based on projections of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Plan, this transition is expected to be implemented as early as October 2021,” he said.

The fourth and final phase will see all economic sectors allowed to operate, with more restrictions on social activities also lifted.

“Interstate travel will be allowed and domestic tourism will also be reopened while being subjected to tight SOPs.

“This Phase can be implemented when Covid-19 case numbers are low, the public health system is at a safe level and the vaccination programme has achieved herd immunity latest by the end of this year,” he said.

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