Malaysia’s two-week nationwide lockdown aiming to curb the spread of the new coronavirus, resulted in long queues at the border checkpoints as workers who usually make a daily commute to Singapore tried to get there before the measure took effect.
According to Kyodo News Singaporeans affected by the shuttering of commercial activities in the neighbouring country also rushed home, exacerbating the traffic jam at the border on the night of 17th March. Returning Singaporeans included holidaymakers who were forced to leave hotels as operations were suspended due to the lockdown.
Malaysia faces the highest number of coronavirus infection cases in Southeast Asia at over 670, and have now prohibited entry of foreigners and the exit of Malaysians abroad. Those who return from abroad must be screened and self-quarantine for 14 days.
All public activities, including those of religious nature, will now be postponed and businesses must shut down except for markets and shops that sell daily necessities. Schools are also closed.
For thousands of Malaysian workers commuting to Singapore, in particular, making it through the border before midnight was crucial to continue to work in Singapore for the next fortnight.