After more than two years of embracing the face mask as part of life’s new normal, many Malaysians are hesitant to take them off for good.
With daily Covid-19 cases still in the thousands, Mohd Haikal Abd Jalil, 33, said he would take off his face mask indoors only when the country’s daily Covid-19 cases dipped below 1,000.
“My work requires me to interact with people every day, with meetings, engagements and so on. As I am working from the office full-time, I plan to continue masking up indoors just to be on the safe side,” he told the New Straits Times.
“I will be more comfortable removing my face mask indoors when daily cases drop below 1,000. Removing of face masks should be allowed only when you are in your work cubicle or workstation, or when you are alone.”
Haikal also hopes that face masks would continue to be required on public transport.
“We can still move towards the endemic phase without having to leave our masks at home. Take Japan, for example, where mask-wearing is a norm. It protects you and those around you from other communicable diseases and not just the coronavirus,” he said.
Beatrice Nita Jay, 30, who works as a project lead at a startup, believes that Malaysians would continue to wear face masks.
“Mask-wearing, either indoors or outdoors, should be optional. Currently, we see people with and without face masks outdoors. I will still choose to wear it for my own peace of mind and because it has become a habit for me.”
She said the anticipated announcement by Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin on the matter today was to give an option for the people.
Entrepreneur Nurul Syazana Rose Razman, 35, said people should make an informed decision on wearing face masks.
“The choice will be in their hands, so people don’t feel compelled anymore, in regard to the wearing of face masks,” she said.
Allisa Aina Fatini, 23, said she would feel comfortable removing her face mask when there were less than 10 people in an enclosed space.
“I would wear a face mask indoors because this is my choice. I will feel safer because I have family members at home in the high-risk category,” said the corporate communications intern.
“Lifting the mask mandate should also be reciprocated with easy access to vaccines,” she said.
Meanwhile, parents of school-going children hope face masks would continue to be mandatory in schools.
Entrepreneur Salhani Ibrahim, 37, said she wanted her children to continue wearing face masks at school.
“Viruses are all around us. Even before Covid-19, we have had other flu viruses. Children are exposed to these viruses at school too, so I want them to be safe.”
Another parent, Nadia Hanafi, 32, said she would continue to mask up after having been infected with the virus along with her 2-year-old son.
“Removing the mask indoors would increase the chance of getting a Covid-19 infection for my son and I. Besides, I now work at the office, so I have concerns about those who have yet to be vaccinated,” said the digital marketer.
“Wearing a face mask is not hard. By wearing it, you are doing a service to those around you too,” she said.
For an intern in the public sector, Amir Hamzah Mat Yusuf, 22, the lifting of the mask mandate would be timely as the government moves towards endemicity.
“We need to move on, but those who feel sick or unwell should continue wearing them.”
Final year student from Universiti Teknologi Mara Niezzhan Abdul Wahid, 23, said with the lifting of the mask mandate, the onus was on the public to look after themselves.
Health experts on Aug 24 told the NST that Malaysia could be ready to take the next step in its transition to endemicity by relaxing its face mask mandate.
The Malaysian Medical Association president Dr Koh Kar Chai last month urged the government to review the mandatory wearing of face masks in enclosed spaces as Covid-19 cases were plateauing and the hospitalisation rate was declining.
Yesterday, an NST online poll found that most Malaysians wanted to continue wearing face masks. The poll, which is shared on NST’s social media accounts until today, also allows users to share their thoughts in the comments section. – NST