No total lockdown – Economic situation considered before decision: Minister

PUTRAJAYA, May 22 – While the government has not imposed a total lockdown, there will be more restrictions under the Movement Control Order 3.0, and in some areas of high risks, Enhanced MCO are still ongoing, Senior Minister (Security) Datuk Ismail Sabri Yaakob said today.

There will be more roadblocks, shorter operating hours for businesses including retail outlets, restaurants and petrol stations that will have to close by 8pm except those on highways effective May 25.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Health Director General Tan Sri Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah, he said the government had given serious consideration to several factors, particularly the situation of the people who would face dire economic situations during the MCO period.

While it will be easy to fight the spread of the virus with a total lockdown, this will also cause a lot of problems for the people, he said.

He cited the cases of people losing their jobs, income and ensuing difficulties including mental stress during the last MCO, before making the decision not to have a full lockdown nationwide.

The government incurred losses amounting to RM2.4 billion in losses daily while small time traders who depended on daily income were without income and faced a lot of hardships.

As for not closing down big businesses during the MCO, the minister said these companies may end up closing down their operations and this would not only affect them but those depending on the companies for their jobs.

A total of 800,000 people lost their jobs during the first MCO, he said, adding that it will be difficult for the lower income groups to survive under such conditions.

Nevertheless, the SOPs have been tightened and all business activities will have to close by 8pm under the fresh restrictions, he said. As for Working From Home, the public sector will have its workforce at office reduced to 20 percent from the previous 30 percent while the private sector will have only 60 percent of its workers in their premises.

In areas where there are EMCO, people are still not allowed to carry on any activities, social or economy.

On Saturday, Malaysia reported another day of more than 6,000 fresh COVID-19 cases and 50 deaths.

Under the prevailing situation, it will not be enough to have the MCO and SOPs alone, Ismail Sabri said, adding that people would have to do their part to help combat the spreading virus.