No businesses want to face that again, but if there is no choice, they hope the govt can take a targeted approach
by S BIRRUNTHA / pic by TMR FILE
MALAYSIAN businesses are well-prepared to handle another surge in Covid-19 cases on a timely basis, as they have learned enough lessons from the past outbreaks.
SME Association of Malaysia national VP Chin Chee Seong said when the Covid-19 pandemic spread rapidly in early 2020, most businesses had to respond quickly without any plans.
However, the situation is different now that businesses have had the opportunity to learn from the impact of Covid-19 and multiple lockdowns, they will be able to react in more agile and decisive ways when there is a crisis.
“Businesses are well-prepared to face another spike in daily cases. There’s no doubt about that. We have gone through all the experiences, as well as lessons and it has definitely made us stronger.
“Of course, no businesses want to face that again, but if there is no choice, we hope the government can take a targeted approach instead of announcing a blanket lockdown again.
“In fact, we feel that businesses cannot afford to face another blanket lockdown, especially those in the retail, as well as food and beverage sector.
If there is another lockdown, they must resort to closing their business once and for all,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).
Chin noted that the government should take a targeted approach such as implementing lockdown in a specific building that is infected with Covid-19, instead of locking the entire district or area.
He also emphasised that as the country moves into the next phase, it is now time for businesses to explore and take advantage of the opportunities emerging in the recovery.
He added that this includes conducting an “after-action review” to collect data and insights on the lessons gained from the pandemic and use them to increase business value today and build strategic resilience for the future.
Chin said businesses that are currently taking these steps will be able to handle the upcoming crises more effectively, as well as restore their security and stability.
“We don’t feel that businesses need to be worried about facing another challenge because we are starting to see enhanced confidence among consumers.
“We do hope that the cases will continue to decrease and eventually come to an end. Even if it does not end, we will learn to live with it and find ways to move forward,” he noted.
To date, Malaysia has opened up almost all economic sectors under the recovery phase, as the government accelerated the pace of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme.
In line with that, Malaysia also eased the travel restrictions for fully vaccinated residents, after reaching its target of full inoculation for 90% of the adult population.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob has previously noted that the Covid-19 lockdown move is no longer feasible as it can have more negative implications, including on the mental health of Malaysians.
Meanwhile, Putra Business School Assoc Prof Dr Ahmed Razman Abdul Latiff opined those businesses still need to have emergency funds to prepare for any eventualities not just on increasing cases of Covid-19.
He said apart from the pandemic, the world is also facing a global supply chain issue as many countries have started to open their economies and caused massive demand for products and services worldwide.
“So, I think local businesses and small and medium enterprises need to make sure they have ample supply for their materials from various sources, enough workers.
“This will enable them to tap into their cash reserves if there is a sudden increase of material costs due to possible interruption of the supply chain,” he told TMR.
As for the spike in Covid-19 cases, Ahmed Razman said businesses can still survive if the cases spike again provided that the government did not close down the sector or implement Movement Control Order (MCO).
He believes the government would not decide to implement another MCO or blanket lockdown again, as the country is currently in the endemic phase.
“Therefore, any increase in cases will not be as severe as before due to 95% of adults and 45% of those aged 12 to 17 years old are already fully vaccinated.
“The hospitals also can take in serious cases as there are enough beds at the moment. So, there will be no major impact to the businesses if the cases increase again,” he said.