Retailers urge govt to reopen sector, says nationwide lockdown penalises those in low risk areas

·3-min read
A view of an empty shopping mall during the movement control order in Kuala Lumpur June 2, 2021. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
A view of an empty shopping mall during the movement control order in Kuala Lumpur June 2, 2021. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, July 3 — A group of retailers urged the government to reopen the sector by July 15 or when the national vaccination rate achieves its target of 10 per cent.

At a press conference held via Microsoft Teams, the retailers stressed that the nationwide lockdown has also punished areas that are considered as low risk.

“Going forward, we trust that any lockdowns will be judiciously determined based on locality and neighbourhoods that are infected with significant clusters and not to impose nationwide lockdowns which unnecessarily penalise those areas that are low risk.

“Those economic sectors that have diligently operated under strict SOPs and having achieved low risk environments should be encouraged and not be made to suffer for the inability of those that have caused the infections due to their lackadaisical non-compliance of SOP,” a spokesman said during the press conference.

The group added that a precise in-depth analysis and breakdown based on locality and states should be undertaken so that the green zones are not made to suffer unnecessary economic damage because of the hot spot zones.

“We believe that once this thorough evaluation is done, more of the other states will be able to open up for economic operations including all shopping malls, retail operators and business outlets including those in street front shops,” it added.

It also mentioned that the sector has an estimated real estate value of RM145 billion as of December 2020, while stating that the retail industry has contributed significantly to the country’s economy.

“Our market size is relatively small and it is challenging to entice foreign brands to our country to add diversity for attracting tourists thus we need to make all efforts to retain those who already have a presence in our country.

“Currently without tourist arrivals, this is even more critical considering that we can only rely on domestic consumption to pull through the current precarious period,” it added.

The press conference was attended by the Malaysia Shopping Malls Association (PPK), Malaysia Retailers Association (MRA), Malaysia Retail Chain Association (MRCA), Bumiputera Retailers Organisation (BRO), Malaysia REIT Managers Association (MRMA) and Malaysian Association of Theme Park and Family Attractions (MATFA).

Previously, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the first phase of the National Recovery Plan due to expire June 28 will be extended as the country’s Covid-19 infection numbers have not met the threshold set.

National news agency Bernama reported the prime minister as saying that daily Covid-19 cases were still above the limit of 4,000 a day, one of the three benchmarks that must be reached before the NRP could move into the second phase.

Muhyiddin also stressed that Malaysia will not exit Phase One until all three NRP indicators — new cases below 4,000 daily, “moderate” demand on intensive care capacity, and 10 per cent vaccination in the country — have been met.

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