Ismail Sabri: Govt to discuss how to help parents who can’t work from home amid closed childcare centres during CMCO

Ida Lim
·4-min read
Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob speaks during a press conference in Putrajaya April 5, 2020. — Bernama pic
Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob speaks during a press conference in Putrajaya April 5, 2020. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 1 — The government understands the difficulties of families where both parents are working but have no place to send their children as childcare centres are closed during the conditional movement control order (CMCO), senior minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said today.

Ismail Sabri stressed, however, that childcare centres are closed due to children falling under the category of those being in high risk of being infected with Covid-19, but said the government would seek to help parents who are unable to work from home.

Ismail Sabri was responding to an observation on childcare centres and some parents asking for such services to be open during the CMCO period.

“As we know, the high-risk groups are old folks and children, that’s why we always advise not to bring children under the age of 12 — even though shopping complexes are open — try not to bring them, because they are considered high-risk. So that’s why we don’t open childcare centres,” he said, noting that the government was also slow to allow childcare centres to reopen back in May when Covid-19 rules were relaxed.

Ismail Sabri said the government understands the problem faced by parents where they may not have maids and it would be difficult to leave their children at home if both parents are working, unlike previously when they could send their children to childcare centres.

“We understand this, that’s why recently we carried out work from home, so at least some of the parents that face problems in sending their children to childcare centres that are closed, when they work from home, they can take care of their children,” he said in a press briefing that was broadcast live on the Defence Ministry’s Facebook page.

However, Ismail Sabri acknowledged that only roughly one million of the 2.5 million employees in both the private sector and the civil service in Selangor and the federal territories were recently allowed to work from home during the CMCO, noting that this meant the remaining figure of around 1.5 million were still required to work from their workplace and may have problems getting childcare services for their children.

“So we will continue to discuss with the Health Ministry on how we can help parents that are both working and have no place to leave their children at childcare centres,” he said, adding that the government will discuss this issue in detail as any decision made must be agreed by the Health Ministry.

CMCO was initially imposed on Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya from October 14 to October 27, and on Sabah initially from October 13 to October 26. The CMCO for both Klang Valley and Sabah has since been extended from October 27 to November 9.

EMCO in one area ends, another new EMCO to start

In the same press briefing, Ismail Sabri announced that the enhanced movement control order (EMCO) on the Alor Setar prison in Kedah (from October 5 to October 18, and extended from October 19 to November 1) will end tomorrow.

He said the government had agreed to end the EMCO imposed on the Alor Setar prison, as no Covid-19 positive cases have been recorded there in the past seven days.

Ismail Sabri said the government has decided to impose an EMCO on the Kota Kinabalu temporary detention centre from November 3 to November 16 in order to curb the spread of Covid-19 cases among the detainees and staff, noting that this was applied and proposed by the National Security Council’s Sabah chapter.

Ismail Sabri noted that this comes after 56 detainees out of the 261 detainees and staff at the Kota Kinabalu temporary detention centre tested positive for Covid-19, as of October 30.

For this latest EMCO, Ismail Sabri said 1,820 detainees and 114 detention centre staff will be affected, with the same rules for previous EMCO in other prisons and detention centres to apply, including the barring of entry and exit from the centre and visits from family members also disallowed.

Ismail Sabri also said police yesterday arrested 485 individuals for failure to comply with standard operating procedures during the recovery movement control order (RMCO), with failure to wear face masks again the highest breach at 162, followed by physical distancing failures at 123 individuals, failure to prepare equipment or to record customers’ details at 79, entertainment outlet activities at 25, premises operating beyond the allowed hours at 13 and others at 83.

Ismail Sabri highlighted that entertainment outlets are in the list of activities completely disallowed during the RMCO, before urging for local authorities which are tasked with licensing to take stern action such as closing down their operations, instead of merely having the police issue compounds.

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