Covid-19: Eurocham warns businesses won’t survive ‘total lockdown’ suggests targeted approach in red zones

Police officers conducting checks at a roadblock in Jalan Kuching, Kuala Lumpur January 31, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Police officers conducting checks at a roadblock in Jalan Kuching, Kuala Lumpur January 31, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

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KUALA LUMPUR, May 19 — The EU-Malaysia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Eurocham) Malaysia today warned the Malaysian government against a full lockdown, citing many businesses in the midst of recovering from last year’s movement control order (MCO) may not be able to survive another one.

Although supporting the decision, Eurocham said it was not necessary to activate a full lockdown for any state or the entire country as it may hinder Malaysia’s economic recovery and affect social sustainability.

“Businesses are still restructuring and recuperating from the impact of the first lockdown last year, and facing many challenges due to the protracted pandemic including substantial revenue and financial losses, logistics challenges and supply chain interruptions just to name a few,” said its chairman Oliver Roche in a statement this evening.

He added that many businesses including the European business community here in Malaysia have abided by the standard operating procedures set by the government as well as adopted stricter measures to ensure health and safety of employees despite the losses that they have faced.

He also pointed out that recent data by the Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre (CPRC) has found that the numbers reduced from over 200 clusters totaling 28,524 cases within the manufacturing sector in early January to only 31 clusters in May 2021 at 1,598 cases, with a decline of nearly 95 per cent.

“In light of this positive development, we feel that instead of a complete and unspecified lockdown, a more targeted set of SOPs focusing on stricter measures on travel and social activities would be ideal.

“This approach would reduce community infection and allow businesses to continue rebuilding themselves and stimulate the economy again,” he said. 

Eurocham Malaysia also said that if the government goes ahead with a full lockdown, it should be a targeted approach to only specific red zones and focused on community infection.

“This approach should be accompanied by mass testing and vaccination efforts and a comprehensive financial support programme.

“Considering the likely challenge of the government to provide further assistance, we as chambers are concerned about a potentially devastating and lasting impact on the Malaysian economy and its capacity to attract foreign direct investments,” he said.

On Monday, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba said his ministry is mulling the implementation of a total MCO lockdown in Selangor, should the number of cases continue to rise.

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