After public pushback, barbers, hair salons and optometrists not allowed to operate during MCO

A man helps trim his friend’s hair at their home during the movement control order in Kota Damansara April 12, 2020. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
A man helps trim his friend’s hair at their home during the movement control order in Kota Damansara April 12, 2020. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

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KUALA LUMPUR, April 13 — After public pushback, Putrajaya announced that barbers, beauty salons and optometrist services are not allowed to operate throughout the extension period of the movement control order (MCO). 

In the daily non-health press conference, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob stated that Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has decided against allowing these services to operate during the MCO period.

“The government has listened to the people, the government also listened to views from experts as well as non-governmental organisations. Therefore, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has decided that all barbers, beauty salons and optometrists are not allowed to operate nationwide throughout the MCO period,” he said. 

Last Friday, Putrajaya released a new list of industries that are allowed to operate following the announcement of the extension of the MCO to April 28.

Barbers and laundry, but not self-service outlets, were among those named by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (Miti).

However, the decision to allow these outlets to operate, especially barbers and beauty salons, received criticism from across the political divide as well as the general public on the grounds that it would be difficult for these services to comply with strict social distancing procedures due to the nature of their profession.

In a statement, co-signed by Pakatan Harapan lawmakers — Parti Amanah Negara’s Datuk Hatta Ramli, PKR’s Fahmi Fadzil and DAP’s Ong Kian Ming — the decision was censured for not being “thought out properly and completely”.

Umno Vice President Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan, on the other hand, advised Putrajaya against allowing limited operations for barbers and laundry services, pointing out that these are not essential services.

Other sectors that are allowed by the government to operate are: Automotive (limited to complete built-up models, equipment, components and after-sales services such as maintenance); hardware, electrical and electronic stores and optometrists in the wholesale and retail industry; machinery and equipment and aerospace.

Also included are: Science, professional and technical services including research and development (incidental to legal practice, oil and gas, Covid-19 R&D activities and testing labs); social healthcare (including registered traditional and complementary Chinese medicine practitioners) and construction related services.

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