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Associations Plead Govt To Let Malls Open In July Or Else 50% Of Them Will Close For Good

The retail and mall groups said that 20 to 30% of shops in malls have been closed over the past 16 months, with 300,000 staff personnel being laid off.

Cover image via Lim Huey Teng/CNA & Lim Huey Teng/Reuters

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Associations representing Malaysian shopping mall and retail industries released a statement on Tuesday, 22 June, appealing to the government to allow them to reopen for business next month

Retailers that were considered non-essential businesses were ordered to close during the latest round of the Movement Control Order (MCO) that began on 1 June.

The joint statement was released by the business groups that consist of the Malaysia Shopping Mall Association, Malaysia Retailers Association, Malaysia Retail Chain Association, Bumiputera Retailers Organisation, and the Selangor and KL Electrical Home Appliances Dealers' Association, reported Malay Mail.

Among the concerns expressed was that more businesses would be forced to close for good if the current restrictions were to continue in July.

The business groups also emphasised that economic recovery may be a difficult feat once the COVID-19 pandemic is under control.

"Presently, already 20-30% of shops in malls have been closed due to the adverse conditions of the past 16 months, and with 30% of staff being laid off, this amounts to 300,000 personnel," the statement read.

Image for illustration purposes only.

Image via Bernama/New Straits Times

The business groups predict that there will be another 50% of the mall and retail industry that will close their doors for good if they are not reopened in the beginning of July

Retailers who risk closing for good include street-front shops, prominent domestic, and international retail brands. Their employees are also at risk of being laid off.

The business groups warned that once international brands exit Malaysia, it would be twice as hard to pull them back into the country.

"With these massive lay-offs and shop closures, the entire retail and shopping malls industries will be grievously and critically damaged and will need massive efforts and time to rebuild the malls' ecosystem or the malls themselves will permanently close, and the retail supply chain will be deeply fractured," the statement read.

They also cited the Ministry of Health (MOH) data, saying the retail and shopping sector contributed to only 0.8% of overall COVID-19 cases recorded in May

"We should not be unduly penalised with closure from operating. Therefore, we believe the retail and shopping sector should be reopened immediately to provide essential and other services to the community without risk of infectivity," the business groups stressed.

They argued that shopping malls only allow entry to individuals whose MySejahtera status is 'Low Risk' and display body temperature that is below 37.5ºC, reported New Straits Times.

They said other than having shoppers' visits cut down to a maximum of two hours, shoppers were also diligent in practising social distancing and wearing masks.

The business groups argued that shopping malls are safe places to not only stock up on necessities, but could serve as avenues of mental and physical relief.

This will be especially refreshing for the public since activities involving crowds, promotional events, and congregations of any sort are banned.

"We appeal to the government to take all these positive factors into account in the upcoming review and allow the immediate reopening of all trades in the malls, except for those in the negative list," the groups said.

Last week, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced the government's four-phase recovery plan

Muhyiddin said that each phase of the recovery plan will be based on factors consisting of the daily COVID-19 case average numbers, the capacity of the public health system, and the vaccination rate of the general population.

"During this Phase 3, all sectors of the economy will be allowed to operate except activities listed on the negative list, such as activities that have a high risk of spreading COVID-19 or involving large crowds," he said.

The prime minister believes the country will be able to reach Phase 3 by the end of August.

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