Covid 19: Malaysian Government imposes harder lockdown measures

Malaysians had barely adapted to the lockdown measures imposed by the Government from 25 May 2021 when the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, issued a media statement on 28 May 2021 (“Media Statement”) announcing even stricter lockdown measures in an attempt to break the chain of infections of the Covid-19 virus. The imposition of these new measures from 1 June 2021 is understandable given that the number of new Covid-19 cases have increased by more than 100% from 4,140 on 15 May 2021 to 9,020 on 29 May 2021.
The Prime Minister explained in the Media Statement that the latest iteration of the lockdown in Malaysia will be implemented in three phases, namely Phase One which will be for a 14-day period from 1 to 14 June 2021, and if Phase One succeeds in reducing the number of new cases, Phase Two will be implemented for a 4-week period, to be followed by Phase Three. The decision to progress to subsequent phases will depend on the Ministry of Health’s risk analysis of the country’s Covid-19 situation at the material time, including the number of daily Covid-19 cases and the country’s healthcare system.
According to the Prime Minister, only essential services will be permitted to operate during Phase One. Phase Two will see the reopening of more economic sectors where physical distancing is possible and do not involve large gatherings. Tan Sri Muhiyiddin Yassin added that the measures during Phase Three will be similar to those under the recent movement control measure where most economic sectors, but not social activities, will resume.
This Alert focuses on the general standard operating procedures (“SOPs”) affecting businesses (including restrictions of movement affecting such activities) under Phase One. The SOPs in respect of Phases 2 and 3 will be issued when the respective phases come into effect. The full list of restrictions and prohibitions, including education, religious activities, meetings, workshops and seminars, sports and recreation as well as general health protocols can be accessed here.
Businesses and Services
All essential services approved by the Ministry or related agency are allowed to operate during Phase One subject to obtaining an approval letter from the relevant Ministry. Movement of workers are subject to registration and an approval letter for operations or a workers’ pass or an employee confirmation letter.
The operating hours of most business premises have been reduced. Businesses that are now allowed to operate from 8.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m. include –
  1. Restaurants and food premises where only take-away, drive through and delivery are permitted;
  2. Grocery stores, convenience stores, shops selling daily necessities such as hardware stores, vehicle workshops, baby goods store;  
  3. Pharmacies;
  4. Supermarkets, hypermarkets, mini mart and the basic essentials and food and beverages section of departmental stores;
  5. Veterinary clinics and animal care;
  6. Launderettes (including self-service laundrettes); and
  7. Optical shops.
Healthcare facilities such as hospitals, clinics and medical laboratories are allowed to operate for 24 hours, or in accordance with their respective operating licences. Petrol stations are allowed to operate from 6.00 a.m. to 8.00 p.m., except for petrol stations along highways which are allowed to operate on a 24-hour basis.
Various forms of markets, e.g. wholesale markets, wet markets, dry markets, weekly markets and farmers’ markets are also subject to limited operating hours, as set out in the SOPs. Night markets are not allowed to operate during Phase One.  
Airports and ports are allowed to operate during Phase One.
Reduced capacity at offices
The number of staff allowed in government offices (excluding service front-liners, safety, defence and enforcement) is limited to 20% of the total staff (with 80% working from home), whilst attendance for the private sector in essential services is limited to 60% in the office (including operations and management) with 40% working from home.
Control of movement
Interstate or inter district travels are prohibited during Phase One.
The number of passengers in a taxi or e-hailing service is limited to two persons, including the driver.
The number of persons in a goods vehicle as well as for the economic or industry activity chain (except for workers transportation) will be based on the commercial registration licence of the vehicle.
Public land and sea transportation, such as workers transportation, bus services, LRT, MRT, ERL, monorail, ferries and other public transportation are allowed to operate at 50% capacity, subject to the operating hours and frequency determined by the Ministry of Transport.
Movement by short-term business visitors approved under the One Stop Centre Initiative for an official reason or for business is permitted with approval from the police. 
List of essential services
The following have been specified as ‘essential services’ –
  1. Food and beverages including animal feed
  2. Healthcare and medical care including dietary supplement, veterinary clinics and veterinary services
  3. Water
  4. Energy
  5. Security and safety, defence, emergency, welfare, and humanitarian aid
  6. Solid waste management and public cleansing and sewerage
  7. Transport by land, water or air
  8. Port, dock and airport services and undertakings including stevedoring and transferring of cargo, pilotage, storing or bulking commodity
  9. Communications including media, telecommunications and internet, postal and courier as well as broadcasting (for the purpose of delivery of information, news and the like)
  10. Banking, insurance, takaful and capital market
  11. Credit community (pawnbroking only)
  12. E-commerce and information technology
  13. Production, refining, storage, supply and distribution of fuel and lubricants
  14. Hotel and lodging (for the purpose of quarantine, isolation, workers’ lodging in essential services, and not for tourism)
  15. Construction, critical maintenance and repair works
  16. Forestry services (limited to enforcement) and wildlife
  17. Logistic, limited to delivery of essential services
  1. Production services (with 60% workforce capacity)
  1. Aerospace (component and maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO))
  2. Food and beverages
  3. Materials for packaging and printing in relation to food and beverages and healthcare
  4. Personal care goods and cleaning materials
  5. Healthcare and medical products
  6. Personal care goods, personal protective equipment including rubber hand gloves and fire safety equipment
  7. Components for medical devices
  8. Electrical and electronics goods (for the global economic supply chain)
  9. Oil and gas including petrochemical and petrochemical products
  10. Machines and equipment in relation to healthcare and food and beverages only
  11. Textile for the production of personal protective equipment only
  12. Production, refining, storage, supply and distribution of fuel and lubricants
  1. Agriculture, fisheries, husbandry, farming and commodity (Optimal Capacity)
  1. Agriculture, fisheries, husbandry and its chain
  2. Farming and commodity and its chain (palm, rubber, pepper and cocoa)
  1. Construction
  1. Critical maintenance and repair works
  2. Major public infrastructure construction works
  3. Building construction works that provide complete workers’ accommodations on construction sites or centralized labour quarter
  1. Trading and retailing
  1. Shopping malls are closed except for premises, supermarkets, hypermarkets and departmental stores which have a food and beverages section, basic essentials, pharmacy, personal care, convenience store, mini mart, and restaurant for takeaway and home delivery.
  2. Supermarkets, hypermarkets, pharmacies, personal care, convenience store, mini mart and the basic essentials and food and beverages section of departmental stores
  3. Restaurant
  4. Laundrette (including self-service laundrette)
  5. Other specialty retail stores (petrol station)
  6. Animal care shop
  7. Spectacles and optical shop
  8. Hardware shop
  9. Car workshop, maintenance and spare parts
  10. E-commerce (all categories of products)
  11. Wholesaling and distribution (all categories of essential services products)
  1. Sectors related to food supply chain
The plantation, fisheries, agriculture, livestock and all other sectors related to the food supply chain are allowed to operate.
  1. Others
Any other services, works, industries and businesses determined by the Government after consultation with the relevant local authority who supervises the said services, works, industries and businesses.
Negative list
The activities which are prohibited during Phase One include the following –
  • Spa and reflexology facilities, massage centres, wellness, beauty and hair salons, pedicure and manicure services
  • Betting outlets and casinos
  • Nightclubs, pubs and cinemas
  • Theme parks, family entertainment centres, indoor playgrounds and karaoke centres
The full negative list can be accessed here.
The huge spike in new Covid-19 cases is alarming, to say the least. The number of new cases has more than doubled from 4,140 to 9,020 in exactly 15 days. It is understandable that the Government, confronted by these alarming statistics and the fact that the healthcare system is strained to the limit, has decided to adopt more drastic measures to break the chain of infectivity. Malaysians must now do their part by complying with these stricter lockdown measures.
Lindung Diri, Lindung Semua.
Alert prepared by Tan Wei Liang (Associate) and Tai Kean Lynn (Associate) of Skrine.