Following a spike in COVID-19 cases in Malaysia this week, the Malaysian government is considering whether to go with a fine or jail time for the people who refuse to wear face masks in public.
The aforementioned punishments may be implemented once face masks are made mandatory in public places, according to the Director-General of Health Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.
His statement supported the Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s televised broadcast on Monday (20 July) when he revealed that the Malaysian government is considering making the wearing of masks in public compulsory.
Expressing that the growing number of confirmed cases is “worrying”, Dr Noor Hisham pointed out that the daily cases began hitting double-digits for the third day straight yesterday (21 July) during the Health Ministry press conference.
A total of 15 cases were reported yesterday in Malaysia, and 11 of them are local transmissions.
Dr Noor Hisham added that if face masks are made mandatory in public places under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Disease Act, the people who flout the law could be either be fined RM1,000 (S$325) or put in jail.
Pointing out that practising and maintaining social and physical distancing of one metre apart is difficult for the public, the Ministry encourages people to use face masks. The reason it did not make wearing masks mandatory under the Act was that it would need to consider the punishment.
“The Health Ministry is encouraging the use of face masks, especially in public places, high-risk places or places where social distancing of one metre apart is hard to enforce.”
“We have currently not made it mandatory because once we make it mandatory under the Act, we would have to consider the punishment.”
Dr Noor Hisham also noted that the Government is still looking at the punishment at the moment, as reported on The Star.
“We are still looking at the punishment – whether to fine or give jail time for those not wearing face masks – once its use is made compulsory.”
He went on to reiterate the Ministry’s recommendation on the use of face masks, saying that it could reduce the risk of infection by 65 per cent, adding that social distancing could reduce transmission by up to 70 per cent.