As of 16 March 10 pm, Malaysia government have announced that they will restrict movement on the whole country from 18 March to 31 March.
General prohibition of mass movements and gatherings across the country including religious, sports, social and cultural activities. To enforce this prohibition, all houses of worship and business premises must be closed except for supermarkets, public markets, convenience stores and convenience stores selling everyday necessities.
Malaysians who have just returned from overseas are required to undergo a health check and to do a quarantine (or self-quarantine) for 14 days. There will be restrictions on the entry of tourists/foreigners to Malaysia.
Closure of all kindergartens, government and private schools including daily schools, boarding schools, international schools, tahfiz centres and primary, secondary and pre-university institutions.
Closure of all government and private premises except those involved in essential services (water, electricity, energy, telecommunications, postal, transportation, irrigation, oil, gas, fuel, lubricants, broadcasting, finance, banking, health, pharmacy, fire, prison, harbour, airport, security, defence, cleaning, retail and food supply.
Anyone found to breach the movement control order will find themselves facing up to 2 years jail, a fine or both.
Impact on Businesses
Many businesses who are already struggling to stay afloat will be badly hit by this lockdown. Especially the ones who are in the hospitality industry like hotels and entertainment establishments.
I can see the worst impact will probably be 2 locations – Langkawi and Johor Bahru.
Langkawi is a tourism haven. Many businesses in Langkawi are surviving on tourist income. With travel restrictions, they will have to market hard for locals to vacay instead of depending on foreigners.
Johor Bahru is a well-known shopping haven for Singaporeans due to the close proximity. With just a few km away, many Singaporeans are used to go over to Johor for their weekend shopping and to pump petrol for their vehicles due to the attractive exchange rate of 1 Singapore Dollar to 3 Malaysia Ringgit. With the travel restrictions, Singaporeans will be banned from coming into Malaysia.
Besides Malaysia, Singapore businesses will be impacted as well because some 300,000 Malaysians are working in Singapore. With travel restrictions, this could mean that your fellow Malaysian colleagues may not be able to turn up for work for 14 days unless they are already staying in Singapore. Businesses like retail, food establishments, security, logistics and shipping that depends highly on Malaysians will have to activate their business continuity plans.
Impact on Workers
There are about 300,000 people travelling in and out of Malaysia through the causeway. Many of those are Malaysians living in Johor Bahru while working in Singapore.
With the travel restrictions, this could mean that Malaysians will not be able to travel to their workplace in Singapore for 2 weeks. Or they can choose to stay in Singapore for 2 weeks for the sake of their jobs instead of going home. They’ll have to find a place of accommodation, perhaps with a friend or a colleague while facing a higher cost of living here in Singapore. This is mitigate by Singapore government by giving SGD$50 per night for 14 nights to firm with workers affected and to help those who wants to stay in Singapore, find suitable accommodation.
Some Singapore firms are asking Malaysians especially those who commute to and fro from Johor Bahru to Singapore to work, to choose between staying in Singapore for 2 weeks or taking no-pay leave for 2 weeks. This creates a social dilemma for those who have family back in Johor to choose between not seeing their families or not getting paid for 14 days.
This goes the same for students who are living in Malaysia but travelling every day to Singapore to attend school.
Reality Hits Hard
While panic buying in supermarkets are already happening in Malaysia before the announcement was official, Singapore once again was affected by panic buying as well. Many of their daily necessities are imported from Malaysia like poultry, fruits and vegetables.
Singapore Prime Minister have reassurance from Malaysia Prime Minister that food supplies will continue to be delivered during this movement order restriction, hopefully, to decrease panic buying and hoarding.
Hopefully, with the lockdown, Malaysia can effectively lower new cases. With the recent political change, economic instability and now a lockdown, this may mean Malaysia will take a long time to recover from Covid-19 once this viral panic is over.
Meanwhile, everyone please stay safe and do preventive measures.
For more Covid-19 news on how it is affecting employment, check out these articles:
Covid-19: Employees asked to Take Unpaid Leave by Companies
Covid-19 Outbreak: What are Companies doing right by their employees
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