We are very much elated to note that the majority of our states have now made the transition to Phase Four of the National Recovery Plan, effective October 18, 2021, with more SOP relaxations and the lifting of most restrictions.
However, we are extremely perturbed that even under 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 been inadvertently not been abolished, and it is of utmost urgency to do so.
With the adult population of the country achieving 94 per cent full vaccination as at October 19, 2021, and having accepted the fact that Covid-19 is now endemic, the opening up of the entire economy with all businesses being allowed to operate, including nightclubs and pubs should be implemented immediately.
In view of this, the business community would like to appeal for the repeal of the ‘negative list’ with immediate effect as follows:
1. With the opening up of inter-state travel and domestic tourism currently, we envisage an opening up to international tourists soon, and the entertainment sector including nightclubs and pubs will be sought after by these tourists as well.
If this sector is allowed to be neglected and does not rehabilitate sufficiently to operate, our country will lose out to our neighbouring countries as a travel destination. The longer it remains closed, the closer we are to total annihilation of this sector
2. Nightclubs and pubs have been totally closed since the start of the pandemic and this had resulted in the almost total annihilation of this industry, except for those few operators who have managed to pivot to food and beverage and other businesses.
3. With the current closure of nightclubs and pubs, the creative, entertainment and gig industry have completely lost their source of income as they are unable to perform now.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, most of them have been forced to seek other sources of income in order to survive. With the current SOP relaxations, some have now resorted to busking, but income is uncertain and subject to the generosity of the public and location.
4. In addition to the operators, the industry estimates (at least) 150,000-250,000 (direct and indirect) jobs are at stake with the continuous closure of the nightlife and entertainment industry.
Currently, all the nightlife and entertainment outlets are in hibernation mode, with the majority of our employees being on no-pay leave, supported by the wage subsidy programme, along with other sources of temporary employment.
Should the authorities continue the prolonged closure with no exit roadmap in place, businesses will be forced to shut and we will see a much larger group of claimants for the Employment Insurance Scheme (EIS) in the coming days.
This tsunami of unemployment claims will be an unnecessary additional burden on the already stressed financial situation of the government, as well as on PERKESO.
5. The operation of businesses, including those from the entertainment industry, including cinemas, theme parks, nightclubs and pubs are essential to our mental and emotional wellbeing, especially after having been under tight restrictions for most of the past one-and-a-half years.
With Covid-19 being endemic, there should be a move towards all businesses opening as usual, subject to strict compliance to SOPs, and there should be no necessity for any negative lists.
This will allow all businesses to start positively on the recovery journey, and enable our country’s economy to recover at a faster pace.
This is a joint appeal by the following associations:
- Industries Unite (IU) — Coalition of 117 trade associations and chambers of commerce
- Malaysian Association of Theme Park and Family Attractions (MATFA)
- Persatuan Pengurusan Kompleks Malaysia (PPK) – Malaysia Shopping Malls Association
- Malaysia Retailers Association (MRA)
- Malaysia Retail Chain Association (MRCA)
- Bumiputra Retailers Organisation (BRO)
- Malaysia REIT Managers Association (MRMA)
- Malaysian Association of Film Exhibitors (MAFE)
- F&B Connects (FBCM)
- Hospitality Asia (HAPA)
- Malaysian Food and Beverage Exec Association (MFBEA)
- Persatuan Pemilik Restoran dan Bistro (PPRB)
- Professional Culinaire Association (PCAM)
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.