GEORGE TOWN: Buying mainland vegetables, visiting friends and crossing over the channel for just that special dish were among reasons given to army personnel and policemen at a roadblock here.
The soldiers, all geared up in their uniform and berets, put out their hands to stop cars and politely greeted motorists who were out despite the movement control order (MCO), implemented to stem the tide of Covid-19 infections.
Most of the time, it was the police who did the questioning while the army helped to man traffic.
One woman was given an earful after she told police that she had gone out to buy shampoo, and they found bottles of shampoo in her basket.
One man told them that he drove all the way to George Town from his house in Bayan Baru just to get his favourite food, which was only available in town.
He was urged not to do it again.
Another man, who was in his 50s, was reprimanded when he said he was going to Butterworth on the mainland for dinner and would return to the island at night.
“Can't you just eat here? The order is to stay home or where you are.
“We will arrest you the next time we see you riding about, ” warned a cop.
Another driver told the policeman that he was heading to Bukit Mertajam to buy vegetables.
Again, the man was warned to just get it on the island.
There are among the reasons given by some 100 vehicles that were stopped at a roadblock along Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway on Sunday.
The checks were stringent, with deliverymen asked to show their order sheets, working employees asked for authorisation letters or documents while others had to give valid reasons for coming out of their homes.
If they got a satisfactory answer, the police and soldiers would move on to the next car.
However, if they found the reasons hard to justify, they would order the motorists to turn back instead.
Meanwhile, George Town OCPD Asst Comm Soffian Santong, who was there to oversee the operation, said mobile police stations would be set up at all government hospitals on a 24-hour basis.
“The policemen will be assisted by the Malaysian Armed Forces troops who will be working in three shifts.
“We will also be checking the entry points of hiking trails and public parks here from 6am to 10am every day, ” he said.
OCPD Soffian added that there will be four roadblocks at Batu Uban, Paya Terubong, Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway and Batu Ferringhi for 24 hours a day throughout the movement control order (MCO).
“Police at the roadblocks will be aided by army personnel.
“Ninety-nine (99) army personnel and 50 Rela (Malaysian Volunteer Corps) members were deployed to help us at the northeast district on the island.
“The police and army will also patrol popular spots in the northeast district from time to time, ” he said.
He added that when the 7pm shift begins, the roadblock at Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway will be moved nearer to the junction where motorists enter the Penang Bridge.
“Only people with valid reasons and employees with their order sheets will be allowed to go to the mainland, or else they will be asked to go back to their homes, ” he said.
As of Sunday (March 22), there were 58 positive Covid-19 cases in Penang.