Gradual restart to boost economic capacity, says Azmin

However, companies must adhere to strict guidelines on health precautions and movement provided by MoH


THE government’s move to partially reopen some parts of the economy is expected to provide some reprieve to the nation amid prospects of negative growth and mass retrenchment this year.

Senior Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali (picture) in charge of the International Trade and Industry Ministry said the decision to allow more businesses to gradually resume their operations during Phase 3 of the Movement Control Order (MCO) would increase the economy’s operating capacity.

“The decision to allow the operation of companies in phases, subject to strict conditions, is to ensure (that we have) adequate food supplies, adequate medicine and medical devices supplies, and (that) certain small and medium enterprises and critical sectors can operate to ease the rakyat’s burden, as well as mitigate the economic impact on the nation,” he said in a televised press conference yesterday.

Malaysia’s economy could shrink by 2% or grow 0.5% in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the central bank’s forecast. The projection took into account the closure of non-essential services during the first two MCO phases. The economy had operated at 45% of its capacity then.

Apart from essential services, the government has agreed to allow additional sectors to operate in phases. They include the automotive industry; machinery and equipment; aerospace; construction projects and services related to construction work; science professional and technical services; social health services; hardware shops, electrical and electronics shops; and laundry services.

However, companies must adhere to strict guidelines on health precautions and movement provided by the Health Ministry (MoH). Failure to comply is a criminal offence under Regulation 11 of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Measures within the Infected Local Areas) Regulations 2020.

Companies that have been allowed to operate are required to submit a register of their workers who are involved in operations during the MCO and guarantee that their movements will be limited to their homes and factories or work premises.

Companies are also required to provide thermal scanners and screening for Covid-19 symptoms such as coughing, sore throat or breathing difficulties. The health readings of all workers must be recorded and kept for a period of at least three months for reference.

The government has made it compulsory for all workers to undergo Covid-19 screening prior to their return to work at any health clinics recognised by the Social Security Organisation. All costs for the mandatory screening will be borne by Socso, Azmin said.

Enforcement units comprised of the Public Works Department, Construction Industry Development Board Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur City Hall and the Department of Occupational Safety and Health have been established to monitor industry activities.

Azmin said the ministry has received 18,650 applications through its website within the first two days of the application date. This is after technical problems on the website had been resolved. To compare, the ministry received 12,360 applications within a six-day span during the first two MCO phases.