Experts: States moving into NRP next phase will inspire others


Getting ready: Hairstylist Jerry Wan sanitising the mirrors, chairs and equipment in his J Team hair salon in Ipoh as five states gear up for Phase Two of the National Recovery Plan. – RONNIE CHIN/The Star

PETALING JAYA: The transition of five states into Phase Two of the National Recovery Plan (NRP) will help nudge the nation forward in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, experts say.

One of the biggest impacts would be the opening up of more business activities, said economist Prof Dr Barjoyai Bardai of Universiti Tun Abdul Razak.

“Even before this, export-oriented sectors were allowed to operate, but not some of the small and medium enterprises.

“The transition phase will help smaller businesses, especially those in semi-urban and rural areas in the five states,” he said.

He said the move towards Phase Two in Perlis, Perak, Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang would give hope to other states to return to normalcy.

Citing the example of Selangor, he said the state accounted for more than 40% of the nation’s economy “so the implementation of a transition phase would certainly have an impact on businesses in the Klang Valley”.

The government announced on Saturday that five states had met the three key indicators that allowed them to be move to the second phase of the NRP.

It was previously reported that Malaysia will reopen in four phases based on three main indicators: the number of daily Covid-19 cases, the number of people who are fully vaccinated, and the state of the healthcare system.

Malaysian Employers Federation president Datuk Dr Syed Hussain Syed Husman described the move as a “pragmatic and practical” approach in easing the burden faced by employers and businesses.

“The decision not to adopt a blanket approach in deciding when to go to the next stage in the NRP is more pragmatic and practical.

“This is because states that have met all the criteria set by the government won’t unnecessarily be made to suffer just because some other states are still registering a high Covid-19 infection rate,” he said.

The move would also encourage other states to take more concrete steps to reduce new Covid-19 infections so they can also transition to the next phase of the NRP, Syed Hussain added.

“This will mean more businesses will open and up to 80% of the workforce will be allowed back to the workplace again,” he said.

The government has outlined the following criteria as necessary to transition to Phase Two: average daily cases of Covid-19 should drop below 4,000, the public health system should be out of critical stage including the rate of bed use in intensive care units (ICUs) returning to moderate levels, and 10% of the population should have received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine.

States would be moved to Phase Three if, among others, average daily cases drop to below 2,000.

The fourth and final phase would mean that the number of infections had dropped to below 500 and the healthcare system is at a safe level with enough ICU beds.

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