Malaysia: COVID-19 - Reimplementation of the Movement Control Order

An update on the measures taken by the Malaysian Government to curb the resurgence of COVID-19

In brief

On 11 January 2021, the Prime Minister announced that the movement control order will be implemented from 13 January 2021 to 26 January 2021 (MCO Period) due to the resurgence of COVID-19 cases. Various forms of movement control order will be implemented across Malaysia, as follows:

  • Movement Control Order (MCO) (which represents the strictest form of restrictions) will be implemented in Penang, Selangor, Federal Territory (Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan), Malacca, Johor and Sabah (MCO States);
  • Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) which will be implemented in Pahang, Perak, Negeri Sembilan, Kedah, Terengganu and Kelantan (CMCO States); and
  • Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) which will be implemented in Perlis and Sarawak (RMCO States).

In addition, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong consented to a Proclamation of Emergency and declared a state of emergency in Malaysia. At present, we do not expect the POE in itself to affect commercial operations; please see our Client Alert dated 13 January 2021.1


Key takeaways

In MCO States:

  • Only businesses which are part of the essential economic sector (i.e., the manufacturing, certain construction activities, services, logistic and delivery, plantation and commodities sectors) can operate.
  • Only 30% of managerial level employees of companies in the essential economic sectors are permitted to work from office. The number of support staff allowed to work from the office will be determined by the management, subject to compliance with the applicable Standard Operating Procedures (SOP).
  • Employees in non-essential economic sectors must work from home.
  • All business operations are subject the relevant SOPs, which will be issued by the Government in the coming days.
  • There are various restrictions on travel, social and other activities.

In more detail

The following restrictions apply to the MCO States during the MCO Period:

Travel restrictions

  • Interstate travel is prohibited nationwide and inter-district travel within the MCO States, is prohibited;
  • The movement of individuals within the MCO States is limited to a 10 km radius;
  • Only two people from the same household can travel to obtain food, medicine and necessities within a 10 km radius;
  • Only three people can travel to receive healthcare services or medical treatment in a hospital or clinic within a 10 km radius;
  • Travel to and from a MCO State is permitted for emergency cases with the approval of the police; and
  • Interstate or interdistrict travel for work (including deliveries for commercial purposes and logistic services) are permitted subject to the production of evidence of employer registration (with the relevant ministry or agency), employee pass and authorisation letter from the employer.

Economic Activities

  • Only the following economic sectors (Essential Economic Sectors) can operate during the MCO Period:
    • manufacturing and production;
    • critical construction works2 (any non-critical constructions works relating to residential sites or non-critical maintenance must be halted during the MCO Period);
    • services;
    • distributive trade; and
    • plantation and commodities.

The Essential Economic Sectors are set out in Appendix 1.

All businesses operating in an Essential Economic Sector must register during the MCO Period  with the relevant ministry or agency if they have not been registered previously. This is a one-off registration.

Registration with MITI for companies in the manufacturing, construction and trade and distribution Sector

  • All companies in the manufacturing, construction and trade and distribution sector shall register with the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, through the COVID-19 Intelligent Management System (CIMS), which is accessible at The notification of registration confirmation can be downloaded upon completion of registration.
  • Companies that have registered on CIMS do not need to re-register to operate during the MCO period. They only need to download the notification of registration confirmation.

SOP for Essential Economic Sectors

  • Employers are required to prepare a protocol to monitor and to prevent the spread of COVID-19 based on the standard set by the Ministry of Health.
  • Employers shall perform temperature and health screening at the entrance of the premises. Any employee with body temperature of more than 37.5°c or who exhibits symptom such as sore throat, cough, flu and difficulty in breathing are not allowed to work or to enter the premises.
  • Employers must:
    • report to the nearest health office if more than 5% of the employees are absent from work due to a fever or symptoms of COVID-19;
    • refer the employee with body temperature of more than 37.5°c or who exhibits symptom of cough, sore throat and difficulty in breathing to a clinic.
  • Employers are also required to conduct cleaning and sanitisation three times a day in the common space and every time before the start of the shift or operation. Employers must prepare hand sanitiser at the entrance of the premises and at all common area and other places within the premises.
  • Each employee must wear a face mask at the common area and ensure social distancing. Employers should also take other necessary steps such as providing social distancing markings.
  • Office vehicles should be cleaned and sanitised each time after use.
  • Employees and customers are required to download and register the MySejahtera app for contact tracing and operators of any premises, must download the QR code for use by the employee and the customers.
  • For the construction sector, the movement of workers entering and leaving the construction site and Centralised Labour Quarters (CLQ) must be strictly controlled. Contractors are required to prepare specific transportation to transport workers from CLQ to construction site and vice versa. Contractors are required to ensure that all daily necessities for the workers are made available at site.

Social and Other Activities

  • Dine-in is prohibited, and restaurants and food providers are only allowed to provide take away services.
  • Supermarkets, healthcare service providers (including clinic, hospital and pharmacy) and banks are permitted to operate.
  • All individuals are encouraged to stay at home.
  • For the educational sector, general exceptions are provided to students who are sitting for examinations to attend school subject to strict compliance with SOP prescribed by the Ministry of Education.
  • Individuals from the same household are allowed to undertake physical activities, such as jogging in a group of not more than two people and cycling individually within a radius of 10 km from the residence.

Prohibited Activities

  • The Government has also published a list of prohibited activities as set out in Appendix 4.


Although the reimplementation of movement control order is expected to disrupt businesses, the popular consensus is that it is required to curb the surge of COVID-19 in Malaysia. We expect that the Government will continue to refine the SOPs, in the coming days. Many are also anticipating that the MCO Period will be extended. Businesses should continue to monitor and keep abreast of the relevant developments.

Click here to access the appendices.

Korean version


2 The Ministry of Works (KKR) clarified that only specific construction works that qualify as "critical works" are allowed to operate, subject to registration with MITI. The detailed list of "critical works" is set out in Appendix 2.

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