The government has announced that it will allow the reopening of almost all economic sectors and business activities from Monday, May 4. Under a new conditional aspect to the movement control order (MCO), which will be known as a CMCO, businesses will be allowed to resume operation subject to conditions and tight standard operating procedures (SOP), prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said in a special Labour Day address to the nation earlier today.
He said the decision to introduce the ease restrictions progressively and cautiously – with stringent SOPs in place – has been made following advice from the health ministry. The matter was also discussed at length during Economic Action Council (EAC), National Security Council (NSC) and Cabinet meetings.
He said that the halting of the economy had impacted the nation financially, with the country losing RM2.4 billion a day since the MCO began on March 18, and total losses so far was estimated at around RM63 nillion. If the MCO – which is currently in phase four – goes on for another month, he said the country would lose another RM35 billion.
Muhyiddin said that the government has clear and definite plans to fight the Covid-19 pandemic and tackle the economic crisis with six strategies. Now that the first two, the resolve in controlling the outbreak and the building of economic resilience through the Prihatin economic stimulus package and with plans to restart the economy, had been accomplished, he said it was time to move on to the third strategy.
As such, the government is ready to restart the economy. The PM said he is aware that after two months of undergoing MCO, many are eager to go back to work, and traders were keen to restart their business, as livelihood had been affected.
“At the same time, many are also concerned that if the order is lifted, there is a possibility of a new outbreak. I know you are worried. I am too. We must find a way to balance the need for the economy to recover and the importance to contain Covid-19,” he said.
“We will implement conditional movement control order (MCO), where most economic and social activities will be allowed. However, activities that involve mass gathering and exposing the public to the risk of being infected with Covid-19 will still not be allowed,” he said.
He said that businesses that involve mass gatherings, body contact or where social distancing cannot be controlled will not be permitted. These include Ramadan bazaars, cimemas, karaoke centres, night clubs, as well as sales events, conferences and exhibitions. Social gatherings such as kenduris, open houses, buka puasa as well as concerts are also not allowed.
Outdoor sports that do not involve physical contact – such as jogging, badminton, cycling and golf- are permitted, but those involving contact such as football, rugby and swimming as well as all indoor sports are not.
The government is also easing up on restrictions imposed on food outlets. The PM said that restaurants and eateries can open for dine-ins, but must adhere to strict conditions that have been set. These include a two metre distance between tables and maintaining social distancing measures on those seated at the table as well as when lining up at payment counters (with line markers for this purpose).
Establishments must also provide access to hand sanitisers for customers, equip workers with face masks, examine customers temperatures before they enter the premises and record the name and mobile number of the customer as well as the date of visit, the last for contact tracing purposes if needed.
Muhyiddin said that people are still advised not to leave home unless necessary, and said that companies should have their employees work from home if possible, even with the relaxing of restrictions. He added that interstate travel is still banned (which means no travel back to hometowns for Hari Raya), and that schools, colleges and universities will remain closed.
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