Mall operators appeal to govt for July 15 reopening

A man wearing a face mask walks through a shopping mall in Bangkok on Saturday, June 26, 2021, amid an economy downturn in Thailand due to restrictions to halt the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. - AFP

PETALING JAYA: Operators of malls and retail outlets have made an impassioned plea to the government to allow them to reopen by July 15 or when the country’s 10% vaccination target is achieved.

They said given that the shopping mall and retail industry contributed significantly to the economy, all efforts had to be taken to preserve the performance of the sector.

Malaysian Shopping Malls Association president Tan Sri Teo Chiang Kok said the World Health Organisation (WHO) had warned against lockdowns, saying that they resulted in economic damage, and that there should be a flexible approach to managing the pandemic.

“We have to accept that it will remain part of our lives and move forward as the economy cannot afford to remain closed continually.

“Otherwise, we foresee that almost 500,000 employees engaged in the shopping mall and retail industry will eventually be laid off,” he said at a virtual press conference yesterday.

Also in attendance were the Malaysian Retailers Association, Malaysian Retail Chain Association, Bumiputra Retailers Organisation (BRO), Malaysian Reit Managers Association, and Malaysian Association of Amusement Theme Park and Family Attractions.

They implored the government to allow all malls and retail outlets to reopen by July 15 or when the 10% vaccination target is achieved, whichever is earlier.

They said that all the periodical lockdowns would not stop the spread of Covid-19 and its mutations but that only the acceleration of vaccination was key to controlling the virus.

Currently, only industries considered to be essential are allowed to open under Phase One of the National Recovery Plan.

Teo said the retail sector had adhered to SOP, with only 0.8% of all Covid-19 cases in May linked to the sector.

“With layoffs, the industry might never recover and would eventually impact other components in the supply chain and the retail eco-system,” he added.

He said footfall to malls since the start of June was less than 5% compared to 60-70% in March to May.

BRO president Datuk Ameer Ali Mydin said while the government’s intention of implementing lockdowns was noble, the issue they had with it was the way it was done.

“Implement lockdowns where necessary but let the others open to survive,” he said.

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