Economic sectors to be reopened first, schools later

PETALING JAYA: The Health Ministry is proposing that economic sectors be opened first before a decision is made as to when schools and social sectors are reopened, says Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

He said the ministry was looking into guidelines for childcare centres, personal exercise and schools, before considering allowing them to resume operations.

“As far as schools are concerned, the Health Ministry suggested and proposed that we start the economic sectors first.

"The (re-opening of) social and education sectors will be delayed a bit.

“Let the economic sectors start, and we monitor the situation for two or even four weeks, before we can decide or propose to let the social and education sectors re-open, ” he said in a daily press briefing on Wednesday (April 29).

To a question on personal exercise such as jogging, Dr Hisham said that the issue of exercise was also part of the standard operating procedure that was being discussed.

“There will be no close contact sports. Exercise will be considered, provided they follow our guiding principles, which are social distancing and no public gathering, ” he said.

On the issue of childcare centres, he said the matter would be discussed with the National Security Council (NSC).

“Every morning we have a meeting together. We are looking into the matter and we are considering it.

“But what is important is that we must have guidelines from the Health Ministry, whether it is about childcare centres, restaurants or institutions.

“The guidelines are ready, and if the childcare centre can adhere to the guidelines, there won’t be any problems, ” he said.

He stressed that companies or economic sectors allowed to operate must adhere strictly to the guidelines set by the Health Ministry, and that the announcement to re-open other economic sectors would be made in the future.

“We are looking into easing the movement control order (MCO), but (companies) have to follow the guiding principles of the Health Ministry.

“We have provided the guiding principles, and now we are in the process of looking into the SOPs of all sectors.

"The announcement will be made soon, ” he said.

Dr Hisham said that green areas in the country free of Covid-19 would be identified before the authorities considered implementing a soft landing approach for such places.

“Other than Perlis, there are other areas (mukim) that are totally green before and throughout the MCO phases one, two and three," he said.

Before considering implementing a soft landing approach for such areas, the criteria set out prior to this would have to be met, Dr Hisham said, adding that the most important criterion would be community empowerment.

“We may need a week before the standard operating procedure is ready, and when the Health Ministry has looked into it and is satisfied with it, perhaps we can implement (soft landing).

"But as of now, we have not made a decision on this, ” he said.

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