The Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) has described Putrajaya’s decision yesterday to impose a nationwide lockdown as a “bitter pill to swallow”, but says it understands that it is critical to flattening the curve of the Covid-19 pandemic.
MEF also noted the clearer explanation by the authorities to businesses, saying it hoped the confusion over SOPs in the sector during previous movement control order (MCO) phases could be avoided.
“This time employers and the public were given clearer and transparent instructions for the government’s immediate plans to control the spread of Covid-19,” its president Syed Hussain Syed Husman said.
Syed Hussain also called for stimulus packages from the government to address the expectations of a toll on businesses and employees.
“Without any revenue during the lockdown, it would be extremely challenging for them to remain sustainable,” he said, noting that the finance minister had warned that as many as 2.8 million people would lose their income while up to 40% of small and medium business could be shuttered for good.
“An automatic loan moratorium must also be reintroduced so that such businesses and individuals can survive and be able to continue with their operations,” he added.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister’s Office announced a two-week nationwide lockdown similar to the one announced in March last year.
It said the lockdown would be in three stages subject to risk assessments by the health ministry, with the lowering of infections critical in the first two weeks.
It said the second phase lasting a month would allow the reopening of some economic sectors that do not involve large gatherings, while the third phase would see the MCO as it is currently practised, with most sectors allowed to operate.
MEF welcomed the targeted timelines, adding that these could only be achieved if the number of infections was reduced.
It said it was also important that border control be tightened to prevent Covid variants from entering the country.
“This is a collective responsibility but we still see that the seriousness is taken lightly and so besides asking the government, the people must also be accountable for their actions.
“There is no point talking about giving choices of vaccines to the rakyat as this does not help solve the problem,” Syed Hussain added.