News & Views


Posted on 4th May 2020

A majority of States have resisted the reopening of the economy on 4 May but do they have the authority to stop businesses if they are permitted by the CMCO?

On 1 May 2020, the Prime Minister announced that all business sectors would be allowed to resume operations if they did not fall within a list of prohibited activities, starting 4 May 2020. These pronouncements have come to be referred to as the Conditional Movement Control Orders (CMCO). Although the announcement was initially well received, concerns that a premature reopening of the economy to such an extent could result is a new spike in the rate of infections, continued to circulate. Consequently, a majority of states came out with their own announcements stating that they would not implement the CMCO for now. These were Sabah, Sarawak, Kedah, Kelantan, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang and Pulau Pinang.

This in itself gives rise to a legal connumdrum. Under the present regulatory regime, the MCO and all other subsequent regulations including the CMCO have been empowered and proscribed under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Disesases Act 1988 (the “Act”). Whilst the states may be right to continue restricting movement, they can only do so under the ambit of the MCO and not by their own powers of regulation. Therefore, without the backing of the Federal government under the Act, their rulings can be challenged. The Health Minister (MOH) and his authorised officers are the only persons empowered under the Act to make regulations for this purpose. Consequently, once the restrictions are lifted by MOH there is no other mechanism for restricting businesses on the grounds of health in a generalized way. In other words businesses (unless restricted by the CMCO) are entitled to operate in the same way as before the MCO was gazetted.

Whilst there may be state or local authority regulations that can be used to require businesses to comply with certain health and safety rules, those may only be enforced against businesses that do not comply on a case to case basis.

RLSE Regulations Team (

Recent posts



Subscribe RSS Feed

RSS Feed
* indicates required

Ally Law