New SOPs by Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin state that face masks are still required on public transport and e-hailing rides.
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin had a long list of SOP updates to get through, but most importantly were the ones that altered where and when we do (or do not) need to wear face masks.
It was a landmark announcement for those who have lived through the COVID-19 pandemic where we were essentially forced to wear something over our face that was unflattering, cumbersome, inconvenient, and even obstructive to breathing freely for the past 2 years.
Of course, this was done for the greater good, ensuring that we do our most to keep the deadly virus (which is airborne) from spreading while we go about our daily activities. Speaking of which, social distancing requirements are also being walked back, and just in time for the Hari Raya festivities too.
However, as many countries have already done with huge majorities of their populations vaccinated (then vaccinated again….then boosted), this ‘mask mandate’ has been lifted. In Malaysia, following this announcement, this change will take effect from May 1st, 2022, as part of other sweeping policies to combat the pandemic being relaxed.
While face masks will no longer be required (but continues to be recommended) to be worn outdoors and in certain indoor situations such as within office buildings and shopping malls, it is required to be worn when in more enclosed environments.
The government has specified that face mask-wearing will continue to be mandated while taking public transportation such as when in a bus, train, or taxi, and the same applies to ride-hailing vehicles.
This isn’t exactly a comprehensive list as there could be many more circumstances that we might find ourselves indoors and in closer quarters where putting on a face mask might be a good call, but the officially stated exceptions include exercising alone, giving speeches, and eating.
Outside of such cases, we’d need to exercise our own judgement instead of relying on the authorities to decide.
What do you think, is this the right time for this? Should the government have kept the ‘mask mandate’ going for longer?