The Malaysian government's decision to implement a full nationwide lockdown for two weeks, commencing today (June 1), in an attempt to flatten the Covid-19 curve has been greeted positively by tourism and hospitality stakeholders.
The news was made late Friday night, following a day that saw an all-time high of 8,290 new cases. The next day, with 9,015 additional instances, this record was broken.
This will be the country's second full nationwide lockdown, following a movement control order (MCO) issued in March of last year for nearly two months to eradicate Covid-19.
Only essential and service sectors will be allowed to operate during this new lockdown, which will last from June 1 to 14. Health care, the food and beverage industry, banks, and transportation services such as ports and airports are all included.
Hotels and lodging are permitted to open, but solely for quarantine purposes, not for tourist.
The administration has also agreed that 80% of civil servants and 40% of private sector employees will be able to work from home.
If the 14-day lockdown is successful in reducing daily new infections, the government will move to a four-week Phase 2, during which economic sectors will be allowed to restart as long as there are no major gatherings and physical distancing is possible.
Following that, Phase 3 will allow business sectors to operate but social activities are prohibited. The decision to go from one phase to the next will be made after a risk assessment has been completed.
The tourism and hospitality industries concur that a complete lockdown is required to stop the spread of Covid-19 infections in the community and to ensure the long-term viability of all enterprises and industries.
“MCO 1.0 was a success, no one can deny it,” said Uzaidi Udanis, president of the Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association (MITA). It had aided in the flattening of the curve. We had been proposing for a lockdown similar to MCO 1.0.”
He went on to say that Malaysia must also speed up its national vaccination programme, since this appears to be the only path out of the pandemic.
“Our members are also willing to volunteer the use of all our assets including vans and tour buses to speed up the vaccination programme by providing free transport and manpower to bring people to the vaccination centres,” he said.
MITA's voluntary service comes after multiple news reports claiming that vaccination uptake is poor. More than 14,000 people, largely senior citizens, did not show up for their appointments in Johor, 11,000 in Kedah, and about 10,000 in Kedah, with the most common reasons being a lack of transportation and someone to accompany them to the vaccination centres.
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