Putrajaya to allow some industries to reopen in stages, as MCO extended by two weeks

Syed Jaymal Zahiid

People watch the live telecast of the Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announcing the extension of the movement control order due to the Covid-19 pandemic in Kuala Lumpur April 10, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, April 10 — The government will allow selected industries to reopen in stages in the third phase of the movement control order (MCO), to start April 15 until April 28.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said a strict standard operating procedure that would observe health guidelines will be issued for these industries as they reopen.

“I understand that the economy is disrupted because of the restrictions imposed on industrial, manufacturing and trade activities for the entire duration of the MCO,” he said in a special address.

“So we have agreed to allow selected sectors of the economy to reopen in stages alongside a strict hygiene guideline and movement restrictions.”

A special Cabinet committee comprising senior ministers will determine which sectors will be prioritised, he added.

“A special Cabinet committee to be co-chaired by the Senior Minister of International Trade and Industry and Senior Minister of Defence will be formed to study and decide which economic sectors will be selected to reopen in stages,” he said.

Industries, paralysed by the restrictions for the near one month since the MCO was enforced, would likely welcome the announcement.

Suppliers and manufacturers have repeatedly pleaded for the government to relax some aspects of the order so supply chains of essential businesses could resume.

Economists estimate the Covid-19 pandemic and the movement restrictions that have followed would cost the Malaysian economy at least a fifth of GDP.

Just yesterday, the Department of Statistics Malaysia released a grim report that found massive job losses, mostly affecting low-income workers.

The situation has prompted the Opposition to push for the government to lift the MCO with certain conditions.

Leaders like Lim Kit Siang said restrictions should be waived for locations with low infection rates so businesses and life could resume some normalcy in a bid to save jobs.

But Muhyiddin suggested the government has no plan to do so even as certain industries are allowed to reopen.

“Just because we allow some sectors to operate again does not mean we are loosening the restrictions on movements,” he said.

“The MCO is still enforced, and all orders issued by the authorities must be obeyed. Any businesses found flouting the order will be penalised.”

The government is expected to release the list of industries to reopen soon.