Are we ready to return to the ‘old normal’?

MITI announces that the 30% WFH directive has become void as of April 1


MALAYSIANS are beginning to feel like the country is going back to the way it was before the emergence of Covid-19, now that offices can operate full swing.

With Malaysia’s Covid-19 cases seemingly under control and the national inoculation campaign in full swing, the International Trade and Industry Ministry (MITI) announced that the 30% work-from-home (WFH) directive has become void as of April 1.

The private sector can physically resume 100% of the workforce for the management, supervision and support levels.

A senior manager in the private sector, who request anonymity, noticed that although a nasi kalut restaurant in Ampang was packed during lunch hour recently, people did not loiter around like they used to.

“People just eat and go.

“Eateries have gone back to normal and are lively again with food selections increasing. It is good to see that the public is adhering to the standard operating procedures (SOPs), but sadly there are still parents taking their small children out to crowded places.”

Now that the morning traffic is back, the senior manager reminisced about the bliss of travelling to work during the restriction period as there was no traffic.

“I saved a lot of toll charges bypassing the SMART tunnel, but now with the volume of vehicles having significantly increased, even the SMART tunnel is busy,” the senior manager told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

An administrator executive, who also did not want to be named, told TMR that the most obvious evidence that the country is returning to pre-Covid-19 condition is the traffic.

“In Subang Jaya where I work, the traffic has become more hectic compared to before the full workforce directive,” he said.

Although senior executive Afiq Ariff was optimistic about “old normal” making a return, he highlighted that everyone must remain cautious.

“I am excited about things going back to the way they were, but we have seen how Covid-19 cases spiked in other countries soon after they reopened. I do believe, however, that most Malaysians will keep practising the SOPs,” he said.

Since reopening the economy, many European nations have been struggling to stop the dramatic spikes in Covid-19 cases.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said Europe’s sluggish vaccination drive was prolonging a pandemic that has already claimed more than 2.8 million lives worldwide.

According to the WHO, only 10% of Europe’s total population has received one vaccine dose, and 4% have received two.

Amid surging cases, countries like France, Italy and Belgium have been forced to reimpose restrictions, a move that has caused more tension and frustration among the people.

In Brussels, Belgium, police had to disperse thousands of people who gathered in a park on April 1 to show defiance on the country’s lockdown.

“In Malaysia, although some people are still not following the SOPs, with proper implementation of regulations, the curve will be flattened like it did prior to the Sabah election,” Afiq added.