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Gov’t decides to reopen businesses to prevent up to RM98b in losses

Published
Modified 1 May 2020, 8:40 am
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CORONAVIRUS | The Perikatan Nasional (PN) government made the decision to reopen businesses on Monday to prevent economic losses of close to RM100 billion.

In a live address, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said the country has already lost up to RM63 billion for the duration of the movement control order (MCO) since it began on March 18.

Even so, he said the government was aware of concerns that the easing of the MCO might undo the country’s efforts in containing the Covid-19 spread and cause a new wave of infections.

“If the MCO continues for another month, the country could lose up to RM35 billion, making it a total loss of RM98 billion.

“That’s almost RM100 billion. At the same time, many are concerned that should the MCO be lifted, what will become of our efforts to contain the Covid-19 spread? The virus is still out there. Even if the number of cases is going down, the risk of infection remains.

“This we want to avoid… I have discussed this at length with the Economic Action Council, National Security Council, and cabinet. We must find a way to balance the need to restore the economy with the interests of containing the outbreak,” he said.

The premier had previously stated that the country was bleeding RM2.4 billion a day due to the beating the national economy was taking as a result of the global pandemic and subsequent MCO.

He said this when announcing the implementation of a conditional MCO, beginning Monday, which would see the reopening of most businesses and social activities.

Muhyiddin reiterated that the government from the very beginning had a clear plan in combating Covid-19 and facing the economic crisis through six steps, with the country now taking the third step of restarting economic activities.

“The first step is to take action to curb the Covid-19 pandemic by implementing the MCO.

“Secondly, it is to build resilience through the Prihatin package to boost people’s ability and economy.

“Thirdly, to restart the economy properly and in a controlled manner.

“Fourth, to implement a strategy for the recovery of the economy to face the new normal.

“Fifth, to revitalise the economy as a whole for the future. And finally, the sixth step is to reform the economic structure to enable the country and everyone to move forward to an era of life that has changed with the new normal,” Muhyiddin said, adding that the government had completed the first and second steps.

The prime minister said that in line with the implementation of the third step to restart the economy, a conditional MCO would be imposed where a large segment of economic and social activities are allowed with terms and conditions.

Muhyiddin said the few activities that are still not allowed during the conditional MCO are ones that involve large gatherings of people that can expose the public to the risk of Covid-19 infection.

He added that enhanced MCO would continue to be implemented at several areas that record a high number of Covid-19 cases during the conditional MCO.

Taking a hypothetical example, Muhyiddin cited restaurant owner Pak Salleh who in the next day or two can go to his restaurant to clean the premises, plates, cutlery and other equipment in preparation to open the restaurant on Monday next week.

The premier said in line with the need for social distancing and other SOP to curb Covid-19, Pak Salleh needs to ensure that the tables are at least two metres apart which will provide a wide space for workers and customers to walk between tables.

Muhyiddin said that Pak Salleh then can place a notice at each table that only one, two or four patrons can sit at the table, depending on the table’s size.

He said that Pak Salleh needs to put several lines on the floor before the payment counter, measuring one metre between each drawn line, to ensure patrons queue at least a metre away from each other while waiting to pay for their meals.

He added that Pak Salleh needs to provide hand sanitisers on the payment counter, buy enough table spray for workers to clean the table after a patron has finished eating there, buy enough face masks for all workers, and try to conduct temperature-screening for patrons before entering the restaurant.

Muhyiddin said Pak Salleh also needs to record the customer’s name, telephone number, time and date coming to the restaurant, in order to enable the health authorities to zoom in on an infected customer should there be a Covid-19 positive case involving a customer.

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List of banned activities during conditional MCO

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The full list of businesses and activities not permitted to restart on May 4 can be found here.

The SOPs set by the NSC for businesses reopening is available here.


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