By S. Harrish
STIFFER penalties are being planned for those who violate SOPs that have been placed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said in a televised address today that this was necessary in order to avoid a total lockdown of the economy.
Under the new penalties, it will allow the government to shut down businesses that do not follow SOPs, take legal action against business owners and penalise main or subcontractors.
He said there are also plans to increase fines for repeat offenders and jail terms for certain offences.
This will require amendments to the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 by means of the Emergency Ordinance.
Currently, the maximum compoundable offence is RM1,000 and jail terms for other offences with no specific penalty stipulated.
Under the Emergency, amendments to existing laws only need the approval of the King, instead of having to go through Parliament.
Muhyiddin also said 31 private hospitals were involved in treating non-Covid-19 patients from public hospitals.
He said private hospitals have also proposed to provide 1,344 normal beds and 65 intensive care beds for Covid-19 patients.
The government would also be taking over National Service and Kem Wawasan facilities as temporary detention centres for foreigners without proper travel papers.
He also gave details on who will be involved in the three Covid-19 vaccination phases that will start later this month.
The first phase will involve some 500,000 health and non-health frontliners and is expected to end in April.
The second phase will involve Covid-19 high-risk groups, namely senior citizens, vulnerable individuals with comorbidities and disabled persons.
This will start from April to August, involving around 9.4 million people.
The third phase of the programme will involve adults aged 18 and above, from May to February next year.