Massage, spa services must shut during MCO, says Sabah government

Datuk Masidi Masidi said it was difficult to regulate spas and massage centres, and that close physical contact was unavoidable in the industry. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Datuk Masidi Masidi said it was difficult to regulate spas and massage centres, and that close physical contact was unavoidable in the industry. — Picture by Choo Choy May

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KOTA KINABALU, Jan 22 — The Sabah government has insisted that massage or spa centres are not allowed to open, after news emerged that one such business was allegedly given permission to operate during the current movement control order (MCO).

Sabah Covid-19 spokesman Datuk Masidi Manjun explained that this is stipulated in the current guidelines, while adding that jewellers, though not apparently essential, are part of the distribution network.

“Under the current provisions, massage services and CD and DVD shops are still not allowed. Please learn to massage yourself as all forms of massages are prohibited during this MCO.

“As for jewellery businesses, they are allowed because they are considered a distribution service and many come under direct selling or multi-level marketing. There are a lot of people involved within the economy. It is not just gold shops that we are talking about,” he said.

He was answering a question on why massage services and CDs and DVD shops were not permitted, but jewellery shops are, as an essential service.

Masidi also said it was difficult to regulate spas and massage centres, and that close physical contact was unavoidable in the industry.

The question comes after DAP lawmaker Jannie Lasimbang accused the Ministry of International Trade and Industry Malaysia (Miti) of practising double standards by arbitrarily issuing permits in Sabah after a popular massage chain was registered as part of the “support service” sector.

Masidi said it is clear under the current SOP that massage centres are not allowed to open for business.

He asked the public to inform the authorities if there is any evidence to the contrary.

Lasimbang had said that Miti should issue clear guidance to be fair to all businesses, and not have double standards when approving applications.

“All applications for permission to open during the MCO should also be checked to ascertain the type of business under the ‘support service’ sector or any other sector,” she said.

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