Restriction on number of visitors to 20 still applies, says Ismail Sabri

Gatherings are limited to 20 during Hari Raya Aidiladha.

PETALING JAYA: Senior Minister for security Ismail Sabri Yaakob said standard operating procedures (SOPs), which limit private gatherings of not more than 20 people at any one time, are still valid during the recovery movement control order (RMCO).

The government last month allowed friends and relatives in the same state to celebrate Hari Raya together as long as they do not exceed 20 people per group, and Ismail said that permission was only granted for the first day of Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

“There should have been no other celebrations after that first day,” he said during his daily press conference today.

“I know many are back in their villages now, but our SOPs remain the same. Social distancing, washing hands, wearing masks … If we can, we shouldn’t have too many people in our homes,” he added.

He was asked about the visitor limit in view of the lifting of cross-border travel during the RMCO, which started on Wednesday, and the upcoming Hari Raya Aidiladha celebrations next month.

Ismail said yesterday marked the first day mosques in the Federal Territories were allowed to operate with one-third capacity and was pleased that mosque officials in the Federal Territories – as well as across the rest of the country – had been following the SOPs set out.

They had to maintain social distancing of one-metre apart, both within and outside the mosques, and had to wear face masks.

SOPs for weddings being prepared

Meanwhile, Ismail welcomed suggestions from industry stakeholders on potential SOPs for wedding celebrations to be allowed again.

Apart from wedding planners, photographers and videographers, the wedding industry also provides jobs for gown designers, tailors, makeup artists, florists, decorators, caterers, cake designers and other related businesses.

In a recent letter to Cabinet minister Mustapa Mohamed, five wedding associations said couples had either postponed or abandoned their plans because of the protocols on mass gatherings and uncertainties over when the movement control order restrictions would end.

Noting that these businesses were now struggling, Ismail said the government will continue to relax the rules to allow for larger gatherings

“A suitable time for reopening will be decided by the National Security Council, the health ministry and the Cabinet. But if companies want to provide SOPs, we encourage that.

“We will discuss their suggestions with the health ministry and business representatives,” he added.

Stopping entry of illegals through ‘rat trails’

Ismail said police detained 11 people and fined four others for breaching various SOPs during the RMCO.

Police conducted 65 roadblocks as part of border security operations and checked 38,612 vehicles to stop the entry of illegal immigrants, especially through rat trails.

Sabri said a total of 723 undocumented immigrants had been detained for entering the country through these rat trials since May 1, with 12 suspected human traffickers arrested and 15 boats seized during the same period.

Meanwhile, 478 Malaysians returned to the country yesterday from Bangladesh, Brunei, China, Egypt, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Singapore and UAE.

Three were sent to hospital after testing positive for Covid-19 while the others were ordered to undergo 14-day home quarantine.

A further 270 people who entered the country through Johor’s borders have also been ordered to undergo home quarantine.

Those who do not fulfil the mandatory quarantine or comply with the SOPs will be issued compound fines of RM1,000 or charged in court.

Ismail said the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) conducted checks on 83 construction sites nationwide yesterday, with two given warnings after not following SOPs.

CIDB has so far conducted checks on 7,659 construction sites nationwide, with 369 of them ordered to close.

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