We are now in our 5th day of the Restrictive Movement Order (RMO). Since the 18th of March, the Malaysian government has announced an RMO for the next 14 days in hopes of flattening the curve.
How does a Restrictive Movement Order work?
Basically, people in the country are instructed to stay put in heir own homes, hostels or wherever they are currently staying. No gatherings are allowed. This is because we can’t identify a person who is infected with Coronavirus or COVID-19 immediately. It could take up to 2 to 3 weeks for the symptoms to appear. So in order to avoid any possible random spreading of the virus and swift medical attention to the group that is already infected, this RMO could potentially work.
A Restrive Movement Order is different from a total Lockdown because people are still allowed to leave their homes to get food and other basic needs. Essential needs related premises such as restaurants, supermarkets or banks are still open.
Restrictive Movement Order in Malaysia
When the RMO rumours were out, it had caused panic buying in Malaysia. People thought it was going to be a total lockdown like China did. So a lot of people went stocking up food and household items like the Singaporeans did.
A day before the announcement, I chose to go to the Setapak Giant because I knew that not a lot of people went there as compared to Cold Storage in Mont Kiara or Ben’s grocer in Publika. As I arrived, lo and behold! Never on earth have I had to queue for a long time and on that day I did. I realised then that this was going to be serious because before that I didn’t know how soon was the government going to enforce an RMO.
After the RMO instruction was announced, it has caused an exodus. A lot of people were rushing to go back to their hometown to be with their loved ones. There were cynical memes on social media saying that these people loved their families so much that they’d even want to “gift” their coronavirus to them.
But some of them were innocent varsity students which had nowhere to go because the universities were shutting down hostels and told the students to leave. It was only later then the government announced that they would provide financial aid to the varsities to cater the students’ needs in the hostels.
On the 1st day of the RMO, pictures and videos of people enjoying their breakfast at restaurants were circulating on social media. The government then emphasized and highlighted that restaurants can’t cater eat-ins but only takeaways. The next day, we saw restaurants had left chairs on the table and only took orders from the entrance.
On the following day, there were still people ignoring the RMO. They still went shopping and even gathering at their residential areas. The Malaysian police had to go hard on them by scolding them to go home.
Malaysian Military Steps In To Enforce the Restrictive Movement Disorder
Finally on the 3rd day, the government announces that the military is going to assist our Malaysian police to enforce the RMO. The government doesn’t want to announce a total lockdown. Only that this time, the government limits only 1 person is allowed to leave the house to buy things that a household needs.
We don’t know if this 14 day RMO would work 100%. But if does not, then following China’s draconian lockdown is the only way to go in the end. China was successful in its battle because it took them only 50 days to be free from the contagious virus.
With the public transport still working and people are still allowed to go to work, I suppose there is still potential for the virus to spread around. We will see.