KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 22 — Trade group coalition Industries Unite today appealed to the government to allow pubs and nightclubs to reopen in states that are under Phase Four of the National Recovery Plan (NRP).
In an open letter addressed to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Yaakob and the National Security Council (NSC), the coalition said all businesses should be allowed to operate as 94 per cent of the country’s adult population has been fully vaccinated and the government has accepted Covid-19 as endemic.
“We are extremely perturbed that even under the final Phase Four, there is still a negative list including nightclubs and pubs not being allowed to open.
“There is absolutely no information on the route to exit the negative list. We feel that the negative list may have inadvertently not been abolished and it is of utmost urgency to do so,” read the letter.
Industries Unite stressed that the businesses’ resumption should be subject to strict compliance with Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs).
“With the opening up of inter-state travel and domestic tourism currently, we envisage the opening up to international tourism soon and the entertainment sector including nightclubs and pubs will be sought after by international tourists as well.
“If this sector is being allowed to be destroyed and does not rehabilitate sufficiently to operate, our country will lose out one of the perks for international tourists in competition to our neighbouring countries as a travel destination,” it added.
It estimated that at least 150,000 to 250,000 jobs were at stake as the nightclubs and pubs reach “total annihilation”, which would then place additional unnecessary burdens on the government to support the unemployed.
Most entertainment centres such as karaokes, pubs and nightclubs have been closed since the start of the first movement control order (MCO) last year.
However, an unknown number with restaurant licences have been allowed to reopen, functioning only as a restaurant.
In June, the Restaurant and Bistro Owners Association (RBOA) said over a 1,000 entertainment centres have permanently shut down due to continued closure.
Government officials have previously said that these outlets are dark and enclosed, making it hard to monitor by the authorities, as well as that the premises are cramped.
Businesses have however argued that they are capable of employing strict SOPs in line with government regulations.