Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Up to 8 million to work from home from Tuesday under stricter SOPs

Two-pronged strategy to minimise people's movements, including more enforcement, roadblocks.

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Senior Minister for Security Ismail Sabri Yaakob today announced more restrictions on movements including a limit on business hours and directives for more people in both the government and public sectors to work from home from Tuesday onwards.

At a joint press conference with health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, he said 80% of government staff would have to work from home and 40% of private sector workers or 6.1 million people.

This means that up to eight million people will no longer travel to their workplace.

Businesses meanwhile will only be allowed to operate from 8am to 8pm.

Ismail said enforcement officers would work together to aggressively monitor business premises and public places.

A special task force meanwhile has been formed comprising the health, finance and international trade and industry ministries as well as the National Security Council and Bank Negara Malaysia.

Ismail also said more roadblocks would be set up while public transportation will be limited to 50% of capacity and scheduled at reduced frequencies.

“We tighten the SOPs, but more important is our self-discipline,” he said.

“It is important that people adhere to every SOP set by the governent.”

He added that a total lockdown could speed up efforts to flatten the curve but said any further loosening of the MCO would still allow a spike in cases if people are not discplined.

This comes in the wake of four back-to-back days of daily case numbers in the 6,000 range, with the health ministry saying yesterday that nearly all districts in the peninsula were red zones.

The current MCO was initially implemented in six districts in Selangor. It was then expanded to Kuala Lumpur and to districts in several other states before Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin declared a country-wide MCO with tighter SOPs which took effect on May 12.

Sarawak however said it would remain under conditional MCO (CMCO).

Speaking today, Ismail also said that under Act 342, face masks must be worn in public places, adding that the niqab or face veil is not a replacement.

This comes in the wake of a police investigation into claims that celebrity Noor Neelofa Mohd Noor did not wear a mask while attending a court proceeding in Seremban. She and her husband Muhammad Haris Mohd Ismail had claimed trial to violating SOPs under the earlier CMCO.

Ismail also said the country had lost some RM2.4 billion during the first MCO when a nationwide lockdown was imposed.

He said the government had to take into consideration the realities faced by those in the lower income group.

“Many ask why don’t we just shut down the big companies and industries. If we allow that, these businesses would close down, and the impact is not on their owners, but on their workers who will lose their jobs,” he said, adding that some 800,000 had already lost their jobs due to the impact of the pandemic.

He said limiting operation hours as well as the number of workers would be a more balanced way of fighting the pandemic and flattening the Covid-19 curve.

Noor Hisham, at the same press conference, said he hoped Malaysians would stay home over the next two weeks. He said this would give public hospitals the space to stockpile their supplies and improve facilities at their wards.

He said Section 3 of the Emergency Ordinance could be invoked by the government to allow authorities to use newer hospitals such as the UKM Specialist Children’s Hospital in Cheras and Hospital Cyberjaya.

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