Totally against total lockdown, but all for stricter SOP

Posted on 21 May 2021

Business and industry groups are dead set against a full lockdown, saying it would cost irreparable damage to the economy, but will instead support a stricter movement control order.

Industry players called for a stricter standard operating procedure (SOP), including curbing the movement of people, while making work from home (WFH) mandatory where possible.

Malaysia Retailers Association (MRA) president Tan Sri William Cheng said that retailers were “strongly and firmly” against a total lockdown, particularly in Selangor.

“The MRA is not in favour of a full lockdown and we urge the government not to implement one as reported in the news, because it will cost irreparable damage to our economy, devastating businesses and stifling the retail recovery effort thus far, ” he said in a statement yesterday.

Rather, Cheng said the MRA proposed the government implement the same model with the two-week MCO 2.0 in six states on Jan 13 this year.

“The MCO2.0 model allowed economic sectors to operate but with stricter compliance to existing SOPs, ” he added.

On Monday, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba said that Selangor might return to a full-blown MCO like the first one in March last year if Covid-19 cases in the state continued to surge.

Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) president Tan Sri Soh Thian Lai said a full lockdown, while helpful in curbing the rise in Covid-19 cases, would have a damaging effect on the economy.

“While we understand the need for stricter measures to be implemented, the industry is not in favour of a total lockdown such as the one being called for Selangor because it would cost irreparable damage to our economy.

“The FMM strongly urges the government not to institute any form of total lockdown, be it nationwide or only for states with high infection rates such as Selangor, ” he said in a statement.

Soh noted that the full lockdown implemented on March 18 last year resulted in the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) shrinking by -17.1% in the second quarter of 2020, with 826,100 jobs lost by May.

Instead of a full lockdown, he said the FMM also proposes the MCO 2.0 model to allow economic sectors to operate but under a stricter SOP.

The Master Builders Association Malaysia (MBAM) said the construction sector was also against a full lockdown and had submitted its proposal for a stricter MCO to the government yesterday.

“We are definitely in a worrying state right now with the current Covid-19 situation.

“So, there is a need for a stricter SOP to be put in place, ” the association said in a statement.

MBAM’s suggestions include mandatory WFH for companies, restrictions on the number of passengers in vehicles, and a tighter travelling radius.

It also called for greater restrictions on social activities and the temporary suspension of physical activities at all education institutions.

The Malaysian Iron & Steel Industry Federation also said that it was not in favour of a full lockdown as there are other effective ways of curbing the spread of the virus, such as a stricter SOP. It added that a full lockdown would have a detrimental impact on the economy that would further stifle its recovery.

All four sectors want stricter movement restrictions while encouraging people to stay home.

They also want businesses and manufacturers to adopt WFH where possible.

Apart from this, the sectors also want the government to continue with aid to affected sectors and speed up the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme for the economic sector.

Source : The Star