In his special address on Friday, prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin said that selected sectors will be allowed to operate in stages during the Movement Control Order (MCO). Among others, hair salons, hardware stores, and laundry services will be allowed to open. He announced this as he extended the MCO for a further two weeks—until 28 April 2020.
The move to relax restrictions on selected businesses and sectors aims to ensure sustainability of the country’s economy and prevent the loss of jobs among Malaysians.
Previously, businesses such as hardware stores were allowed to open twice a week—on Mondays and Thursdays with restricted operational hours.
Following the PM’s announcement, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) outlined the sectors which are allowed to operate. However, some activities are limited.
For instance, while hair salons and barbershops are allowed to open, only the cutting of hair is permitted. Meanwhile, full-service laundromats are allowed to operate but self-service laundromats remain prohibited. These are allowed to operate three times a week—Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, from 10AM to 8PM.
In the retail sector, shops selling hardware items, electric and electronic appliances and optical goods can operate.
Professional, technical and scientific services including R&D limited to legal, oil and gas, COVID-19-related R&D activities and test labs are allowed to operate.
Additionally, registered traditional and complementary medicine (TCM) practitioners are allowed to operate.
Elsewhere, for the automotive sector, only activities related to the export of complete built-up (CBU) units are permitted. This includes the manufacturing of parts and components, as well as after-sales service.
The aerospace industry is allowed to operate as well as professional services that are related to the construction sector including architecture, quantity surveying, town planning, project management, facilities management, and related services.
In the construction sector, projects being developed by G1 and G2 contractors, as well as projects which are 90 per cent complete are allowed to operate. That aside, tunnelling, maintenance, slope, and emergency works (as per a contract) have the green light to operate.
Also at build sites, maintenance, cleaning, fumigation works, and works that pose a danger if not completed. This includes the building of facilities and accommodation for workers.
A balancing act
According to MITI, the refined list of additional sectors was identified after consulting the small and medium enterprise (SME) and industry associations, the Ministry of Health (MOH), and National Security Council (NSC).
The decision to allow additional sectors to operate was based on research on the impact of COVID-19, not just its health implications but also the effects on the financial performance, economy and the well-being of the people. The refined list was based on four considerations:
- The importance of the sectors in the global value chain (GVC) and the country’s exports. This is to ensure the stability of export activities;
- Economic sector activities with high value-added multiplier effect;
- The impact on the sustainability of SMEs in the economic sector, particularly in manufacturing and services; and
- The size of the workforce involved in the sector.
MITI announced that companies within the additional sectors allowed to operate can only start their operations after approval is given by the ministry. Applications can be done via the MITI website starting 13 April, from 9AM onwards. The ministry reminded companies to comply with the requirements of the standard operating procedure (SOP) including those set by the health ministry and other enforcement agencies. Failure to comply will result in the immediate revocation of the operating permit and legal action.
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