KUALA LUMPUR, May 11 — The National Union of Bank Employees secretary-general J. Solomon said that allowing all economic sectors to operate would defeat to purpose of implementing a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19 cases.
He suggested that it would be more effective if only essential sectors were allowed to operate, similar to the introduction of the first lockdown last year, The Malaysian Insight reported.
“Declaring a nationwide movement control order (MCO) is a good decision, but allowing all economic sectors to operate as normal is not going to solve the immediate problem we are facing.
“With most Covid-19 clusters coming from workplaces and factories, allowing these places to operate defeats the purpose of the MCO,” he told the news portal.
Among essential services allowed during the first lockdown were food supply, utilities, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, delivery and courier services, public transportation and certain areas of the manufacturing industry.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced that Malaysia will be under lockdown starting tomorrow as cases trended above 3,000 and 4,000 in the past few weeks.
Despite an earlier promise that there would be no nationwide lockdown, Muhyiddin said restrictions against inter-district and interstate travel and social activities, sports and education are effective from yesterday till June 6, while other restrictions will commence from tomorrow till June 7.
He also said employers must carry out the work-from-home arrangement with no more than 30 per cent of management employees allowed in the office at any one time, while factories are allowed to operate as normal.
Based on the data provided by the Health Ministry, more than 500 workplace clusters have been detected so far and they continue to account for a significant portion of new daily Covid-19 clusters.
Solomon said the government is repeating its mistakes and has not learnt its lesson.
Citing Australia as an example, Solomon said the country would implement a total lockdown in a city even if one positive case is detected.
He said that while Malaysia does not have to follow Australia, tighter and stricter standard operating procedures would see it bring the Covid-19 cases under control.
“What we saw in the beginning, that was a good MCO, a strict one. We are making the same mistakes again and again. So, I think it is not the right move and I hope the prime minister will look into it.
“The government should not compromise on health and safety just for economic purposes. So, I think everybody needs to cooperate,” he said.
Meanwhile, Employers Federation executive director Shamsuddin Bardan had a contrasting view, pointing out that it was important for the economic sectors to operate to prevent massive losses.
“If we close these economic sectors, then the impact on the economy will be very serious, just like the first MCO where the losses suffered by the country were huge.
“I don’t think our country can afford that kind of loss,” he said.
Shamsuddin said he believes that this round of MCO would flatten the Covid-19 curve and at the same time enhance the economy.
Yesterday, Malaysia recorded 3,807 cases bringing the cumulative total to 444,484 while the total number of deaths stands at 1,700.
The current number of active cases now is 37,396 with 434 in intensive care units and 224 requiring respiratory assistance.
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