Cost and location fears as mask rule goes into force

Face masks are now required in crowded places and on public transport under a rule that came into effect on Aug 1.

KUALA LUMPUR: While there is general acceptance of the mandatory face-mask rule which came into effect on Saturday, some confusion remains about where masks are required, as well as concern about the cost of using disposable masks.

A survey by FMT yesterday showed that most people were complying with the order, while several shopping areas had prohibited customers without face masks from entering.

Hari, a 23-year-old student, said it was good that the government was introducing harsher punishments as “we clearly can’t expect everyone to follow the rules”.

He said many people were becoming complacent and failing to observe SOPs due to the lower number of infections when compared with the start of the movement control order (MCO) last March.

However, he said, if new rules were to be imposed affecting everyone, adequate support should be provided for those who need it. “There are those who can’t afford to replace disposable masks every day, and they need support,” he said.

Some people were still unaware of the proper ways to wear face-masks and the type of masks to use.

“There are potential risks of wearing masks in certain situations. And you need to wear masks properly. For example, I heard placing it down at your neck is not very hygienic.”

He added that the specifications of wearing face-masks in public such as the location could also be defined more clearly.

Another local, Darren Lim, 38, who agreed with Hari said: “They mention public areas but it is not detailed.”

“Some business owners, they’re not really clear about that. Just now, I saw the news that in the car, they don’t need to wear masks.”

He also said that although face-masks can be uncomfortable to wear, “if this can save some lives then it’s worth sacrificing”.

An anonymous shopper here said it was a good rule especially for those with small children and toddlers. “It should be mandatory, it’s a good rule. Face-masks are for us, it’s for our own safety,” he said.

Tom, 34, a permanent resident from Australia, said that wearing face-masks when out in public was worth the slight bother. “Covid-19 is a huge inconvenience. A little bit of an inconvenience with a mask is nothing.”

However, he said, the use of disposable masks to be replaced daily would definitely affect certain groups and their ability to follow the rules.

“If you want to mandate something and make it compulsory for everyone, then the government does need to look into the B40,” he said.

Alex Thigarasan, 67, said it was accepted worldwide that wearing face-masks was effective at curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

“It may not prevent it 100%, but even if it helps 50%, it is still good. What the government is doing is right. I believe it is fine. The rules must be harsh,” he said.