KUALA LUMPUR, May 9 — Shoppers and business operators across the Klang Valley were caught unawares today by the government’s closure orders to major shopping malls based on what had been presented as a Covid-19 early warning system.
The malls were listed under the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation’s (Mosti) Hotspot Identification by Dynamic Engagement (HIDE) and ordered to close for three days after their inclusion was publicised.
The confusion stemmed from Mosti’s initial explanation that a location’s listing in HIDE did not necessarily mean it must be closed, which was overtaken almost immediately by the government’s subsequent announcement that the identified malls must close.
With days until the Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebration next week, the sudden move has left businesses in a lurch and would-be patrons frustrated.
Crucially for those shoppers caught by surprise, virtually all of the dozens of Klang Valley malls forced to close as a result of HIDE inclusion were home to the supermarkets chains that also had to close as a result.
The sudden order also forced major supermarket chain operators scrambling to notify patrons about which of their outlets were affected, with many using social media platforms for this purpose.
At GM Klang wholesale city, confusion reigned as both store employees and shoppers were observed milling outside the entrance and trying to get information on its closure.
Security guards were seen standing in front of the entrances with notices at hand to announce the order and trying to explain to those trying to gain entry that the mall was closed on the government’s orders.
Several patrons grew upset at being denied entry to the entire mall while the guards also became exasperated in explaining that the closure was based on an official directive rather than by choice.
At the landmark Suria KLCC here, visitors were seen arriving in taxis only to discover that the iconic shopping mall was among those hit by the closure orders.
They only discovered that the building was closed when they spotted the notices put up at entrances and some support pillars that the mall was among those ordered shut for three days.
Some disappointed visitors were then observed returning to the streets to hail taxis while others walked away.
However, the same confusion was not universal. The Sogo Shopping Complex that was usually a hub of activity was almost completely devoid of people when Malay Mail visited, suggesting that operators and patrons were informed of the closure there.
There were some people who attempted to enter the nearby at Jakel textile mall, but were turned away by guards informing them that the location was among those listed in the HIDE system and had to close.
At Pavilion Mall in Kuala Lumpur, there had been people walking about outside the mall area where the fountain is located when Malay Mail visited. Those who tried to enter it were met with the guards and notices of closure.
Apart from that places like Lotus Setia Alam only allowed staff in while at Central I-City Mall the entire area has been cordoned off.