The Ministry of Health (MOH) may restore enforcement of mask-wearing at indoor locations with compounds of non-compliance, Khairy Jamaluddin said earlier today. The mandate, which falls under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342), was removed as part of Malaysia’s transition to endemicity earlier this year.
The health minister said MOH stopped issuing compounds under the mandate because health authorities decided to prioritise individual and community responsibility over legislative enforcement. However, Khairy notes that local COVID-19 cases have been rising as of late, which may require MOH to restore the mandate if the numbers continue to surge.
“If cases continue rising, and if they rise exponentially, the Ministry of Health does not reject enforcing Act 342 again, especially on those who refuse to wear face masks indoors,” he said during a press conference. The minister also reminded that face masks should always be worn indoors in public areas, with the exception of when one is eating or drinking, giving a speech, or taking photographs.
Based on recent figures, reported cases nationwide between 3 to 7 July had increased 31% when compared to the same period in the previous week. In the same period, it is reported that hospital admissions rose 13.7%, while the ministry had recorded 10 deaths – seven of whom were aged 60 years and older.
Khairy says that he has no particular COVID-19 case figure in mind that would trigger the reinforcement of the indoor mask mandate. Nevertheless, he pointed out that MOH is currently the only agency that has authorisation to issue compounds under Act 342.
To recap, those found violating the mandate will be issued a compound limited to RM1,000. It is also worth noting that the health minister previously proposed an increased maximum to RM 10,000, as well as additional penalties of up to seven years jail, a maximum fine of RM100,000, or both upon conviction. However, the push was rejected.