Malaysia Analytical Update - MCO Phase Four Protocol; Full Capacity Operations of Approved Sectors

Malaysia Analytical Update | April 29, 2020
Authors: Kim Yaeger, Tina Jamaluddin, Emma Tabatabai, Marc Mealy, Alberto Coria, Nick Zuroski 

Companies in Malaysia Approved to Operate During Movement Control Order Can Now Work at Full Capacity

On April 28, Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali announced that economic sectors allowed to operate during Malaysia’s Movement Control Order (MCO) will now be able to work at full capacity without business hour time limits.  The change will be implemented starting April 29 during the fourth phase of the MCO, which is currently expected to end on May 12.  For a list of sectors approved to operate during the MCO, please refer to the Council’s April 10 updateApril 3 update, and March 18 update.  Previously, companies in approved sectors were only allowed to continue operations pursuant to maintenance of a skeleton workforce and restricted business hour windows.  Companies that have been given permits to remain open during the MCO do not need to re-apply for permission.  Complete guidelines for the MCO’s fourth phase can be accessed via this link
Elaborating on the government’s decision, Minister Mohamed Azmin noted that it was made during the National Security Council meeting earlier that day, following recommendations collected by the Economic Action Council and coordinated through consultations with the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), Khazanah Nasional Bhd, and Bank Negara Malaysia.  Companies are required to adhere to the MCO’s standard operating procedure (SOP), and according to Health Director-General Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah SOPs for each sector are expected to be announced shortly.  The Ministry of Tourism, Arts, and Culture has clarified that the hotel industry will remain subject to limited capacity restrictions during this next phase of the MCO.  Furthermore, how the new national guidelines will be implemented at the state level remains to be seen.  Chairman of the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah has stated that the committee will decide which industries may fully operate in the state, as SDMC has final authority.  The Sabah government will still require that only one family member leave their place of residence for daily necessities.  The Johor state government initially issued a statement that operating hours would remain limited to 8:00am-8:00pm.
Also effective April 29, the government will allow ports under its jurisdiction to resume import and export activities for both essential and non-essential goods.  Those facilitating import and export activities will be permitted to do so twenty-four hours a day as long as they strictly adhere to social distancing and sanitary practices outlined in the MCO SOP.  That decision followed previous port clearing exercises over the last few weeks in Port Klang, Johor, Penang, Kuantan, Bintulu, Labuan, Sabah, and Sarawak to reduce port congestion for the flow of essential goods. 
The MCO relaxation also applies to some of the restrictions placed on movement of Malaysian citizens.  For example, two people from the same household are now permitted to travel in the same car together to purchase necessary supplies.  They may also travel past the ten-kilometer limit from their place of residence in the case that necessities and health/medical services cannot be accessed within that radius.
Health DG Noor Hisham stated that the initial opening of approved economic sectors will be used as a test for opening Malaysia’s social and education sectors later on.  The government plans to monitor COVID-19 cases and infection rates during the two-to-four-week period following full capacity operations of approved sectors to determine whether such sectors can feasibly be opened.  The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers applauded MITI’s decision to resume full capacity for approved sectors and called on the government to resume non-essential business operations as part of the country’s path to economic recovery.  Malaysia has seen its number of new daily and active COVID-19 cases decline over the last two weeks.  On April 26, there were only 38 new cases and 1,820 active ones—the lowest number since March 27. 
If your company’s operations are still impacted by the MCO please let our Malaysia team know.