Industries call for targeted approach, relaxed restrictions

Among the suggestions are for improved areas to reopen in stages, for example dine-in with strict SOPs, and to allow movements of people 2 weeks after being fully vaccinated

by NUR HANANI AZMAN / pic by BERNAMA

THE government should consider implementing a targeted approach rather than a blanket lockdown, as well as lifting selected restrictions in Kuala Lumpur (KL) given the high vaccination rate.

Malaysian Association of Hotels CEO Yap Lip Seng said he does not dismiss the possibility that the Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO) in various parts of the Klang Valley will be extended, given the high number of Covid-19 cases.

“However, we believe that there are opportunities for targeted approach moving forward and it would involve a two-pronged approach, that is tightening of areas and sectors where cases are high, and loosening where there had been improvements.

“This is also to take into consideration the vaccination rate per locality, which would greatly reduce risk of severe symptoms,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

Yap said this will also allow the government to focus on higher financial support and assistance for areas in strict lockdowns, including full closures of all economic sectors.

“Allow other areas to reopen in stages, for example dine-in from two people with strict standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place, as well as to allow movements of people two weeks after being fully vaccinated.

“The economy needs to be given room to sustain on its own and this will be part of the exit plan to live with Covid-19,” he added.

Prime Minister (PM) Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said yesterday that the government is mulling the possibility of giving some leeway to individuals who have completed two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, including allowing them to dine at restaurants.

The PM said he had asked the Special Committee for Ensuring Access to Covid-19 Vaccine Supply (JKJAV) to look into relaxing the MCO for those who were fully vaccinated.

“I think most of the people have received their (vaccine) shots. So, I have asked the JKJAV to look into giving some leeway for those who have completed taking two doses of the vaccine either for travelling or dining at restaurants,” Bernama quoted him as saying.

Malaysia Retail Chain Association president Shirley Tay said EMCO has essentially prevented many businesses from fending for themselves. Unless immediate remedial actions are taken, these businesses will collapse.

“We also hope that the restrictions can be relaxed for people who are fully vaccinated to resume life back to normal, so that businesses can begin their recovery process.

“We believe that there is an urgent push from the industry to review and refine the essential and non-essential business categorisation, as most businesses operate in an ecosystem in which they are interdependent on each other,” he told TMR.

She said EMCO may be extended on the basis that the number of cases is at an all-time high and also to prevent another surge of infection in conjunction with Hari Raya Aidiladha celebration.

“Although in principle we disagree with this extension, the current situation with regards to the alarming infection rate may justify this extension for the time being.

“Vaccination must be ramped up with all means and at all expenses.”

From the healthcare point of view, Osel group chief clinical and innovative scientist Dr Kris See said the EMCO implementation has failed to buy time for the system to prepare against the virus resurgence.

“Policymakers should focus on procuring enough vaccines for the vaccination programme. We are now looking at the possibility of booster shots — start now, get the attorney general involved in negotiating contracts, learn from our past mistakes of jumping into the vaccination wagon a little too late,” he told TMR.

He said lockdown, fiercely debated in high-income countries, is even more challenging in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs) as it not only cause disruption to mobility, but also to medical supply chains and access to nutrition.

“While the stakes were already high in LMICs with limited access to healthcare, the lockdowns seem to have unintended consequences that these countries may not be able to recover from.

“We simply must strive to open up as much as possible, as soon as we can.”