Govt reverses decision on barber, optical shops

All barber shops, hair salons and optical outlets will remain closed during the MCO period and all Ramadhan bazaars will be banned nationwide


THE government has reversed its decision to allow barber shops, among others, to reopen amid concerns that the move could lead to the emergence of new clusters of the coronavirus.

Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, in his daily media briefing yesterday, announced that all barber shops, hair salons and optical outlets will remain closed during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period.

“I hope this answers all questions that have been raised. There should no longer be any issues on this because these businesses are not allowed to operate until the end of MCO,” Ismail Sabri said, adding that all Ramadhan bazaars will be banned nationwide.

He said the decision was made by Prime Minister (PM) Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

Last Friday, Muhyiddin announced the extension of the MCO by another two weeks to April 28, although some businesses — including hardware stores and full-service laundry shops — would be allowed to reopen. The MCO was initially supposed to end today.

Other industries that can operate include automotive, machinery and equipment, aerospace, construction and technical professions related to

Covid-19, according to a list issued by the International Trade and Industry Ministry after the PM’s address.

The plan to allow people to visit their barbers again, however, drew the most flak from the public as barbers and customers will be in close contact during a haircut.

The Malaysian Hairdressing Association (MHA) on Saturday urged the government to reconsider its plan, saying it was impossible to maintain social distancing in their line of work.

“The most important thing, for now, is to stay alive,” the association said.

Health DG Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah had also warned against easing measures to contain the spread of the Covid-19 under the partial lockdown period.

“The Health Ministry’s recommendation is that we should maintain what we had done in MCO Phase 1 and Phase 2,” Dr Noor Hisham said.

Phase 3 will be in force from April 15 to 28.

Malaysia yesterday reported 4,817 coronavirus infections in total, the highest tally in South-East Asia. The country has recorded 77 deaths and 2,276 recoveries.

Meanwhile, all university students have been advised to remain at their campuses.

Ismail Sabri said the government will continue to provide food for students in hostels. It is estimated that about 80,000 students nationwide are living on campus.

Separately, a total of 8,647 individuals have been detained and 3,105 compounds have been issued so far under the MCO.

The police on Sunday arrested 1,471 individuals for violating restrictions aimed at curbing Covid-19.

“The numbers of arrests continues to climb. This shows that the police will no longer compromise against those who flout the MCO,” he said.