PETALING JAYA: The end of the conditional movement control order in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Johor and Penang on Mar 18 coincides with the first anniversary of the nationwide MCO that was imposed following the Covid-19 outbreak last year.
With the review on the conditional MCO expected in the coming days, businesses want the government to have in place a comprehensive post-pandemic plan so that the economy can fully open and movement restrictions lifted.
SME Association of Malaysia president Datuk Michael Kang (pic) said Malaysia can open up “as long as we are prepared”.
“The people and businesses must adapt to the new norms, new standard operating procedure, and live with the virus. After March 18, all sectors should be allowed to open with the prerequisite of adhering to the SOP religiously.
“Otherwise, it is better not to (allow all to reopen) if the public remains complacent and still want to go around like nothing has happened.
“The government must have in place a comprehensive plan with details on responses, if we are to allow all sectors to reopen, ” he said in an interview.
After almost a year of living under the various stages of the MCO, Kang said the government and people should have learnt from the past on how to coexist with the virus.“Although vaccines are now available, the post-pandemic management plan is important because many people have not internalised much of the new norms in the past year, ” he said.
“Vaccination takes time, and it doesn’t mean we can go out freely with no masks after getting the jabs.”
Business Survival Group (BSG) pro-tem president Datuk Abdul Malik Abdullah said with mass vaccination in place, the country should move towards the recovery phase so that all strategies and planning are anchored on a post-pandemic approach.
“We should look at the recovery and what we can get up and running post-pandemic.
“If the planning is based on those premises, we are poised to do better than we are at present. I think the government is in a very good position to do that, ” he said, adding that interstate travel should be allowed.
With the travel ban implemented but having all the other steps to ease businesses do not bring about the desired outcome, he said.
“When movement is restricted, logistics in businesses become an issue and it doesn’t bring benefits because people cannot move from one state to another despite some leeway given for travel bubbles.
“For manufacturers and other services, the restrictions will not lead to the highest level of impact, ” he said, adding that it was important for the government to move on to the post-pandemic planning and recovery phase after March 18.
However, Malaysia Retail Association vice-president Datuk Ameer Ali Mydin thinks that the government should be cautious in fully opening up, as positive cases have been going up since March 10.
“We have noticed that in most sectors, especially in the food businesses, many are not complying with the SOP despite reminders. This is worrying.
“The government needs to be cautious and observe the number for a longer period, like perhaps for another week after March 18 to see whether the numbers are really going down, ” he said.
Weighing in, Malaysian Medical Association president Prof Datuk Dr Subramaniam Muniandy said the decision to relax the conditional MCO especially in the Klang Valley should be “more thoroughly evaluated” due to the high population density.
“Daily cases have been consistently high – in the three-digit region – in Selangor, the country’s most populous state. “If the infectivity rate has reduced to the targeted level, then easing of restrictions, including on interstate travel, can be considered, ” he said.