The Health Ministry might have relaxed the nationwide rule on wearing masks indoors, but before you throw yours in the trash to symbolise the emancipation of the lower half of your face, there are still some places where they are most definitely mandatory.
First of all, KKM emphasises the standing requirement to wear face masks in small, enclosed indoor spaces since they cannot outright list all the potential situations this might entail. However, for the protection of our fellow Malaysians, only commutes in your private vehicle can be mask-free.
Face masks still mandatory in taxis, e-hailing rides, trains, buses, and planes
Otherwise, those using a taxi, bus, or e-hailing service will still need to wear one. The same also continue to apply to those riding on trains, planes, and light rail networks such as the LRT, MRT, Komuter, and Monorail.
Besides the vehicular protocols, other places where wearing a face mask is a must include health facilities such as hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, as well as haemodialysis centres, and the like.
The big difference after the September 7th announcement is the downgraded status of face masks in everyday urban environments from ‘required’ to ‘highly encouraged’. These include houses of worship and generally crowded areas (even outdoors - concerts, pasar malam come to mind), meaning you can now technically walk freely mask-free in indoor premises.
That said, that can’t stop people from giving you disapproving looks and walking in a wide berth around you, nor does it apply to private premises that specify a requirement for wearing a mask.
If the proprietor of a business, for example, imposes a mask mandate to enter, you'll have to comply or leave.
It also goes without saying the Health Ministry highly encourages the use of face masks when around (or likely to be around) high-risk individuals such as those of old age, with comorbidity, or those generally prone to or suffering from an ongoing health issue.
Malaysia hasn’t yet committed to being a completely mask-free society like, say, the United Kingdom has. Like it or not, the COVID-19 virus is still prevalent despite all of us being fully vaccinated and, globally, the worse of the pandemic is behind us. Anything can still happen, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.