Freedom offered under RMCO can be withdrawn if abused, warns Ismail Sabri

There have been complaints that social distancing is not practised by visitors at zoos.

PETALING JAYA: Senior Minister for Security Ismail Sabri Yaakob has warned the public that the freedom granted to them under the recovery movement control order (RMCO) phase can be withdrawn if standard operating procedures (SOPs) are not followed.

Answering a question on social distancing not being followed at Zoo Negara, Ismail said the zoo may be closed if SOPs continue to be taken lightly.

“The freedom that has been given does not mean people are free to do anything they want,” he said at his daily press conference today.

“This freedom can be taken back if we feel it endangers public lives, especially the children who visit the zoo.

“If there is a positive Covid-19 case at the zoo, the zoo may be closed.”

Ismail said members of the public were now the “frontliners” in the fight against Covid-19 and must practise self-discipline by observing social distancing.

“So I advise everyone to follow the SOPs, not just in zoos but everywhere.”

He said he spoke to Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador about the matter and was told a police task force would be sent to Zoo Negara to ensure social distancing.

Announced by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin last week, the RMCO phase from June 10 to Aug 31 lifts several restrictions on public activity that were first implemented under the MCO on March 18 to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Although the country’s borders remain closed, interstate travel and domestic tourism are now allowed, as are a wide range of outdoor activities.

No exemptions for athletes

Asked if Malaysian athletes could travel to compete or train abroad, or foreign athletes enter Malaysia for the same reason, Ismail said the rules were clear.

“Our policy is still the same. We are not allowing Malaysians to travel overseas except for a few exceptions such as students who want to return to their places of study to sit for their exams,” he said.

He said such approvals were on a case by case basis and applications must be made through the Immigration Department, adding that no applications had been received from the youth and sports ministry on behalf of local or foreign athletes.

While foreign nationals were still not allowed to enter the country, he said certain exceptions had been made to allow diplomats and MM2H (Malaysia My Second Home) visa holders to return.

Ismail also said police conducted 69,608 checks yesterday to ensure SOPs are being followed, resulting in six arrests and 13 compounds.

Police conducted 67 roadblocks as part of border security operations and checked 48,460 vehicles to stop the entry of illegal immigrants.

Meanwhile, 575 Malaysians returned yesterday from various countries. Two were sent to hospital after testing positive for Covid-19 while the others were ordered to undergo 14 days’ home quarantine.

Ismail also said the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) conducted checks on 40 construction sites nationwide yesterday, with two given warnings after not following SOPs.

CIDB, he said, had conducted checks on 7,699 construction sites nationwide, with 17 of them ordered to close for not following SOPs.

Ismail also said his daily press conferences will now be limited to thrice a week from tomorrow.

Held daily for the past three months at 2pm to inform the public of the latest updates on the various phases of the MCO, the press conferences will now be held on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Fake or not? Check our quick fake news buster here.