Despite government’s nod, optometrists still slow to reopen

An optometrist in Puchong remains closed during the movement control order, January 15, 2021. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
An optometrist in Puchong remains closed during the movement control order, January 15, 2021. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 15 — Conflicting announcements on optometrists’ status under the movement control order (MCO) caused most operators to remain closed today.

Checks in Puchong at about 2pm today revealed that all shops surveyed at the Bandar Puteri commercial area were closed, including those such as EyeDeal Optometrist, Nesson Optical, and So Eyewear Optometry.

When contacted, the operator of So Eyewear Optometry said he had opened his shop yesterday after receiving approval from the Ministry of International Trade and Industry’s (Miti) online system.

However, he said officials from the Subang Jaya City Council (MBSJ) instructed him yesterday to close despite his Miti approval.

“They (MPSJ officials) said that shops that were not supposed to be open (not essential services) had also gotten approval from the Miti system, and asked us to close until there were further announcements.” he said.

In a check at the nearby IOI Mall Puchong, Malay Mail found that some optometrists, including A-Look Eyewear and O.W.L have opened for business.

The shops also displayed printed approval notices from Miti on their entrances, which said they were allowed to operate “for the duration of the MCO starting on January 13, 2021”.

A shop owner who requested anonymity said that he registered with Miti immediately after the MCO was announced and had not waited for further instructions on whether optometrists were considered essential services.

“It took me only about five minutes to get approved, I’m not sure if the process is automated,” he said.

Earlier this week optometrists were excluded from a list of “essential services” and ordered to close under the second MCO even as other businesses selling jewellery, clothes, and even perfume were allowed to operate.

However, today, Federal Territories minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa announced they are now considered “essential services” by the National Security Council (NSC), after the council  received public feedback on the matter.

The MCO began on January 13 and is to last until January 26 as Malaysia struggles to contain the latest outbreak of Covid-19 infections.

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