Crowds in Malaysia are rushing to get back to the malls as the country reopens, causing traffic jams in Bukit Bintang, a shopping destination in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday (Sep. 4).
According to a tweet by Bernama, there was an “increase” in traffic at night, “likely due to many people going out to shop and eat at restaurants, which are allowed to operate till 10pm”.
One person in Malaysia also tweeted images of “a traffic jam”, and a steady stream of people at the same location on Aug. 31, Malaysia’s National Day.
The tweet was captioned: “Pleased to see a traffic jam”, and that “KL is healing”.
A Facebook page, “Bandar Sunway”, which posts updates of the Bandar Sunway area in Selangor, also shared images of a crowded “Sunway Pyramid”, a popular shopping mall, on Aug. 31.
Responding to Bernama‘s tweet, some Malaysians appear to welcome the heavy flow of traffic, perceiving it as a “recovery” for the economy.
Another online commenter expressed concern about Covid-19 cases on the rise again, and the possibility of children — who are yet to be vaccinated — being infected with Covid-19.
Malaysia reopening gradually
Despite recording more than 17,000 cases daily in the past week, the government in Malaysia appears to be pushing ahead with the reopening, by classifying states according to “phases“.
To provide context, states that are classified under “phase one” will have the strictest measures, with no inter-state travel allowed, while states under “phase four” will have more relaxed measures for vaccinated individuals, where inter-state travel is allowed to other “phase four” states.
Dine-in at restaurants are now allowed for vaccinated individuals throughout Malaysia, though businesses have to adhere to capacity limits according to the phase of the state they are in.
At the time of writing, Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, and Johor are currently listed under “phase one”, and only the Federal territory of Labuan in East Malaysia is considered to be in “phase 4”.
Not out of the woods yet
Ahead of Malaysia’s easing of Covid-19 measures, Hisham issued a “reminder” to Malaysians on Twitter on Aug. 19 that the reason of reopening is due to consideration for the economy, and “not because it’s safe” to do so.
Hisham further advised the public to maintain safety measures such as wearing “double masks if possible” and avoiding “crowded and confined spaces”.
Safiya Amaran, a public health expert and medical lecturer at Malaysia’s Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin cautioned against Malaysians letting their guard down in light of recent relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions, reported the New Straits Times.
Safiye also reportedly warned of the potential mutation of the virus, which could make it even deadlier.