PUTRAJAYA: Hair salons, barbers and optometrists in Malaysia will no longer be allowed to operate during the extension period of the movement control order (MCO), said Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yakoob on Monday (Apr 13).
Bazaars will also not be allowed to operate during the upcoming fasting month, he added.
This came amid concerns from the public that allowing these businesses to operate may hamper social distancing efforts to combat COVID-19, after the government said some businesses may be allowed to resume.
In a press conference after chairing a special ministerial committee meeting on the MCO, Mr Ismail said on Monday: “The government has listened to the views of the people. The government also sought the advice of the experts and non-governmental organisations on the matter.”
“As such, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has decided that hair salons, beauty salons, optical shops in the whole country are not allowed to operate during the MCO period … The same goes for Ramadan bazaars. The PM's decision is that all forms of bazaars are not allowed in the whole country during MCO.”
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The first phase of MCO, implemented to break the COVID-19 infection chain, was scheduled to end on Mar 31, but was later pushed back to Apr 14.
Under MCO, schools and non-essential businesses are closed. People are urged to stay at home to minimise contact as health authorities rush against the clock to contain the spread of the virus.
Several locations with a large number of cases were placed under an enhanced MCO, which further restricted the residents’ movement.
Last Friday, Mr Muhyiddin said that the MCO will be further extended by another 14 days until Apr 28.
However, he said that a few selected sectors would be reopened in stages, with health guidelines and strict movement controls in place.
This resulted in negative public feedback and concerns over social distancing.
The Penang state government said over the weekend that hair salons and barber shops will remain shut.
On Monday, United Malays National Organisation’s deputy president Mohamad Hasan said Putrajaya should not allow barbers to operate during MCO as they are not essential services.
“Business operations such as barbers and laundries are non-essential and we don’t desperately need them, so the approval for them to operate should be postponed. Even Ramadan bazaars should not be given any exemptions or leeway,” he said.