On 16th March 2020, the Prime Minister of Malaysia announced that, in light of the COVID-19 global outbreak, and in an attempt to overcome the spread of the COVID-19 infection in Malaysia, a nationwide movement control order (“MCO”) would be put in place from 18th March 2020 to 31st March 2020. The MCO is enforced under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (“PCID”) and the Police Act 1967.
Pursuant to Section 11 PCID, the following order and regulations were gazetted:
On 17th March 2020, the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Declaration of Infected Local Areas) Order 2020 (“PCID Order”) was gazetted where it was declared that all 14 States and Federal Territories in Malaysia are infected local areas (“Infected Local Areas”) and threatened with an epidemic of an infectious disease namely COVID-19.
On 18th March 2020, the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Measures Within the Infected Local Areas) Regulations 2020 (“PCID Regulations”) were gazetted which set out (a) A control of movements and gatherings of persons making journeys from one place to another place within any Infected Local Area; (b) A requirement to undergo health examination upon arrival in Malaysia which applies to any citizen or permanent resident of Malaysia returning from overseas (“Health Examination”); and (c) The continued (but reduced) operations of “Essential Services” (as set out in the PCID Regulations), which include transport by land, water or air.
The PCID Order and PCID Regulations are effective from 18th March 2020 to 31st March 2020 (“MCO Period”).
Continued Operations of Malaysian Airports and Aviation Authorities
On 18th March 2020, the Malaysian National Security Council (Majlis Keselamatan Negara), a federal agency under the Prime Minister’s Department, issued a statement pursuant to the MCO which clarified, amongst others, the Essential Services during the MCO Period (“Statement”). Pursuant to the Statement, operations of airports in Malaysia are to continue as usual, however the general administration and other prongs of airport services would operate at a minimum level only (or with ‘work-from-home’ arrangements afforded to airport employees in these components). In relation to government authorities and statutory bodies relating to aircraft and flights, whilst counter services and other general administration services would operate at a minimum level only, the enforcement component would continue to operate as usual.
Overseas Travelling Restrictions
In accordance with the Statement, during the MCO Period, Malaysian citizens are not permitted to travel overseas, but are permitted to enter from overseas countries, provided that the Health Examination is carried out and a 14-day quarantine is imposed thereafter.
On the other hand, and on a case-by-case basis, non-Malaysian citizens are permitted to travel overseas from Malaysia, but are not permitted into Malaysia unless they hold diplomatic status, a permanent residency, or are expatriates carrying out Essential Services and subject to them being quarantined for a 14-day period.
Response of Major Operating Airlines in Malaysia
In line with the MCO and Statement, various major operating airlines in Malaysia (i.e. Malaysia Airlines Berhad, AirAsia Berhad and Malindo Airways Sdn Bhd) have responded accordingly with reduced flight services to passengers.
Whilst domestic flights continue to operate to facilitate essential travels, the operation of international flights to certain countries has been temporarily suspended, following strict compliance with the directives as announced by the Malaysian government.
We expect further updates from the Malaysian government in the coming days and will disseminate such accordingly from time to time. As of 18th March 2020, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Malaysia stands at 790.
Chong Kok Seng (Partner)
(T): 603 2632 9889
Semantha Lim Hui (Senior Associate)
(T) +603 – 2632 9934
Abigail Yew Yi Xian (Associate)
(T) +603 – 2632 9949