KUALA LUMPUR, June 5 — Popular pharmacy chain Caring Pharmacy has temporarily suspended the sale of items such as hair dye and hair gel during the total lockdown phase of the movement control order, in order to comply with the standard operating procedures (SOPs) by the government as Covid-19 precautionary measures.
Malay Mail was initially tipped off today by customers that Caring Pharmacy outlets were temporarily not selling hair dye.
Malay Mail then made an inquiry to Caring Pharmacy, with the company then confirming that a list of items are currently not being sold.
“Referring to the latest SOP on the list of essential services that are allowed to operate: Pharmacies are allowed to open but RESTRICTED to food, beverage and basic necessities sections only,” the Caring Pharmacy spokesperson told Malay Mail.
The spokesperson was referring to the National Security Council’s latest SOP dated June 2, citing item 2 under section D titled Distribution trade under the list of essential services according to the sector that are still allowed to operate during the total lockdown from June 1 to June 14.
The Caring Pharmacy spokesperson explained: “Hence, we decided to close off non-essential sections. Currently, we identified the following as non-essential in the store: hair colours, sun care, facial mask, hair gel.”
When asked if the list of items deemed non-essential was based on Caring Pharmacy’s own proactive action in order to comply with SOPs or if it was information from the authorities, the spokesperson replied: “The non-essential categories we follow back MCO 1.0 and also mentioned by recent enforcer check at one of our stores.”
Caring Pharmacy said its outlets had started putting up notices to close off sections selling these items on June 3 onwards.
A visit by Malay Mail’s photographer to a Caring Pharmacy outlet in Kuala Lumpur showed the section or shelves displaying the same products being temporarily closed off to customers, with notices to inform customers of the temporary suspension of sales for such products. It is understood that the notices at this outlet were placed as early as June 1, and that similar notices had also been placed at this outlet during MCO 1.0.
On these shelves, the notices carrying Caring Pharmacy’s logo bear the message “Non-essential section closed” and an image with a stop sign over the words “Covid-19”.
Also on the notices were the list of items falling under the “non-essential section”, namely: “Hair colours, suncare, facial masks, men’s hair gel”.
Malay Mail this afternoon also visited the outlets of pharmacy chains Guardian and Watsons along Jalan Sultan in Kuala Lumpur and found hair dye, hair gel, sun care, facial masks available for purchase for customers as usual, with no sections or shelves closed off to customers.
Malay Mail had also made phone calls to another branch of Guardian and another branch of Watsons both in two shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur, which had confirmed that hair dye, facial masks and suncare products are still available for purchase.
Similarly, checks of outlets of pharmacy chains Big Pharmacy and AA Pharmacy along Jalan Sultan also found that hair dye, facial masks and sun care products were available for purchase by customers, again with no sections or shelves closed off to customers.
The latest edition of the NSC SOP dated June 2 found that it listed essential services by sector that were allowed to operate from June 1 to June 14.
Under the Distribution Trade sector, the SOP states that shopping malls are to be closed except for supermarkets, hypermarkets, department stores with food and beverage sections, stores providing essential needs, pharmacies, self-care, convenience stores, mini marts and restaurants for takeaway and home delivery.
The SOP also allows supermarkets, hypermarkets, pharmacies, self-care stores, convenience stores and mini marts and departmental stores to be opened “limited to food, beverages and essential needs sections only”, but does not go on to specify what may or may not fall under the “essential needs” category.
For online shopping, the SOPs had listed “e-commerce (all product categories)” as an essential service allowed to operate throughout the total lockdown, which suggests there is no limit to the type of items purchasable online.
Other essential services under the Distribution trade sector allowed to operate from June 1 to June 14 include restaurants, laundry shops including self-service types, optical shops, hardware shops, vehicle workshops and services for vehicle maintenance and spare parts, stores selling pet food, and wholesale and distribution of all categories of essential products only.
The SOPs are intended to limit or reduce the movement of individuals, to help curb the spread of Covid-19 cases in the country.
The same June 2 SOPs showed that the “negative list” or list of activities under the economy sector not allowed during the total lockdown as including spa, reflexology and massage centres, hair salons, beauty salons and pedicure and manicure services, cybercafes, photography activities, lotteries, casinos, factories and shops for “minuman keras” or alcohol, and driving institutes.
Separately, the authorities yesterday cleared the air over an apparent confusion over whether alcohol could still be sold during the total lockdown, following the temporary closure of alcohol factories during the lockdown period.
Yesterday, the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) said the sale of alcoholic beverages can still be sold at convenience stores or supermarkets, but said specialised shops that only sell liquor would not be allowed to operate during the total lockdown.
Deputy Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Rosol Wahid yesterday said that premises selling essential products such as supermarkets, mini markets, convenience stores and premises with alcohol-selling licence are allowed to continue selling alcoholic beverages subject to existing rules such as age limit and religion of customers, noting that the NSC’s SOP disallowed shops specifically selling only alcohol from operating during the lockdown.
Rosol had also said that the same applies for cigarettes that are sold in premises which are listed as providing essential services by the NSC SOP, indicating that such sales would be allowed according to the rules for selling cigarettes.