Retail associations claim HIDE info 'inaccurate and premature', urges a stop to announcements

PETALING JAYA: Shopping malls and retailers are claiming that the information from the Hotspot Identification by Dynamic Engagement (HIDE) system is "inaccurate" and "premature", and are urging the government to suspend further announcements.

The call came from four associations, namely the Malaysia Shopping Malls Association, Malaysia Retailers Association, Malaysia Retail Chain Association and the Bumiputra Retailers Organisation.

"We urgently urge the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry to immediately suspend announcements from the HIDE system until there is clear, accurate and precise basis for the information to be released," read a joint statement on Saturday (May 8).

Describing the information from the system as inaccurate, the associations said the list had caused "uncertainty, panic and fear."

Earlier Saturday, National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme Coordinating Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said all premises and locations in the HIDE system are not Covid-19 clusters but have the potential to turn into one if pre-emptive action is not taken.

There were 151 hotspots identified in the first HIDE system list, which identified many shopping malls, restaurants and even a few public transport stations, among others.

Premises listed under the HIDE system will be ordered to close three days for sanitisation.

"In view of the inaccurate information in the list, this call to close for sanitisation is premature.

"It will cause irreversible damage to perception and business recovery and survival.

"This proposed closure should be held off until the data used in HIDE has been confirmed accurate and the hotspot locations are accurately identified," the statement read.

The associations said Health Ministry data showed that the top three sources of Covid-19 incidents were factories (48.06%), community spread (12.5%) and construction (11.56%).

"Shopping or retail areas only comprise 4.78%.

"Clarification needs to be accurately provided on the incidents of infections between shopping malls and retailers," the associations said.

The associations also stressed that the safety of shoppers remained their top priority and claimed that with SOPs in place, including enhanced and regular cleaning and sanitisation measures, malls are safe places to visit.

"We opine that the HIDE assessment is grossly unfair to shopping malls and retailers who have invested so much on safety and control," they said.

The association urged for comprehensive consultation to be conducted with industry stakeholders to avoid unnecessary negative impact for the industry.

"We have also taken the initiative and proactive step of working with the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force to collaborate with private hospitals to vaccinate our employees and staff on site.

"This will enable mass vaccination in the shortest possible time without loss of productivity and contribute towards the national objective of achieving herd immunity urgently," they said.

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