Move to make face masks compulsory in public areas lauded

Those who fail to comply with the mandatory face mask ruling from Aug 1 will be fined or hauled up to court.

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA), while welcoming the government’s decision to mandate the use of face masks in public places, has also called for clear guidelines on its use.

Speaking to FMT, MMA president Dr N Ganabaskaran said the health ministry must be clear in its guidelines to avoid confusion among members of the public.

“There should be exceptions for certain sport activities such as running or jogging, provided physical distancing is observed.

“It would not be advisable for people to wear masks when exercising as this can affect a person’s breathing.”

Earlier today, Senior Minister for Security Ismail Sabri Yaakob says the use of face masks in crowded places and on public transport will be made compulsory from Aug 1.

Those who fail to comply with this ruling will either be issued a compound fine or hauled up to court.

Meanwhile, Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy CEO Azrul Mohd Khalib said he supported the move as the benefits and efficacy of wearing masks in public is well documented.

“Complacency is setting in and you can clearly see that the public and even senior members of the government are not wearing face masks.

“My worry is that such blanket rulings, making something mandatory, would victimise people and end up being unfair and unjust.”

He said the use of laws and fines disproportionately affect the poor, the marginalised and the most vulnerable.

Given that face masks are meant to be discarded after use or washed frequently, Azrul said they have to be widely available and affordable.

“Therefore, affordable cloth face masks, rather than surgical masks, should be recommended as they would be more sustainable and cost-effective in the long term.”