Covid-19: More economic activities allowed under National Recovery Plan

On 15 August 2021, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, announced that more economic activities are allowed to resume operations under the four-phase National Recovery Plan (“NRP”) from 16 August 2021.
 
The Prime Minister explained that the latest measures apply to all phases under the NRP provided that at least 50% of the adult population in the relevant states and federal territories has been fully vaccinated and that the individuals benefitting from these measures are required to be fully vaccinated. Our previous Alert on the relaxations to the prohibitions and restrictions under the standard operating procedures (“SOPs”) for fully vaccinated individuals can be read here.
 
Individuals are considered to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 14 days after receiving the second dose of the double-dose Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Sinovac vaccines and 28 days after receiving the single-dose Johnson & Johnson and CanSino vaccines.
 
This Alert summarises the salient points of the latest measures announced by the Prime Minister.
 
Economic activities in states and federal territories under the First Phase
 
The following economic activities are allowed to resume operations in the states and federal territories that are still under the First Phase –
 
  1. car wash services,
  2. electrical and electronic shops;
  3. household and kitchen appliance shops;
  4. furniture shops;
  5. sports equipment shops;
  6. car accessory shops;
  7. car dealerships and distributors;
  8. morning markets and farmers' markets;
  9. clothing, fashion and accessories shops;
  10. jewellery shops; and
  11. barbers and beauty salons (restricted to basic haircuts only).
 
At the time of issuance of this Alert, the states of Selangor, Johor, Negeri Sembilan, Kedah and Melaka as well as the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya are still under the First Phase.
 
Business operators are required to ensure that those who enter the premises show their Covid-19 vaccination digital certificate. In addition, business operators of clothing, fashion and accessories shops, jewellery shops as well as barbers and beauty salons are required to adhere to additional health SOPs which include wearing gloves, limiting staff’s contact time with customers, and prohibiting the use of fitting rooms.
 
Economic activities in states under the Second Phase
 
The following economic activities are allowed to resume operations in the states that have transitioned to the Second Phase –
 
  1. photography equipment and services shops;
  2. used item shops;
  3. florists and nurseries;
  4. handicraft and souvenir shops;
  5. antique shops;
  6. toy shops;
  7. carpet shops;
  8. creative content and creative industry equipment shops;
  9. outdoor equipment shops (including camping, fishing and other equipment);
  10. cosmetics, skincare and perfume shops; and
  11. tobacco shops (including vape and e-cigarettes).
 
At the time of issuance of this Alert, the states of Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Perak, Penang and Sabah have transitioned to the Second Phase.
 
Similar to the relaxation for states and federal territories that are still under the First Phase, business operators in the states that have transitioned to the Second Phase are required to ensure that those who enter the premises show their Covid-19 vaccination digital certificate.
 
Tan Sri Muhyiddin clarified that the above-mentioned economic activities that are allowed to resume operations under the Second Phase are in addition to the 11 economic activities that are allowed to resume operations under the First Phase.
 
Non-essential activities in the manufacturing, construction, mining and quarrying industries
 
Non-essential activities in the manufacturing, construction, mining and quarrying industries are allowed to resume operations in the states and federal territories that are under the First Phase, Second Phase and Third Phase but the operating capacity of such activities is subject to the level of the workforce that has been fully vaccinated.
 
Tan Sri Muhyiddin explained that the operating capacity is as follows –
 
  1. if 40% to 59% of the workforce has been fully vaccinated, the business is allowed to operate at 60% capacity;
  2. if 60% to 79% of the workforce has been fully vaccinated, the business is allowed to operate at 80% capacity; and
  3. if 80% to 100% of the workforce has been fully vaccinated, the business is allowed to operate at full capacity.
 
At the time of issuance of this Alert, the states of Perlis and Sarawak and the Federal Territory of Labuan have transitioned to the Third Phase.
 
On the same day as the Prime Minister’s announcement, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) announced that manufacturing companies that are not listed as essential services in the areas that are under the First Phase or Second Phase are allowed to operate based on the level of the workforce that has been fully vaccinated, and manufacturing companies that are listed as essential services in the areas that are under the First Phase, Second Phase or Third Phase are allowed to increase their operating capacity based on the level of the workforce that has been fully vaccinated.
 
MITI added that employers are required to conduct a RTK Antigen Testing every two weeks for its employees as a proactive measure to prevent a Covid-19 outbreak at the workplace and to declare the number and names of their fully vaccinated employees on the COVID-19 Intelligent Management System (CIMS) 3.0 system.
 
Tourism bubble pilot project
 
Tan Sri Muhyiddin also announced that the Government is studying plans to make Langkawi a pilot project for a tourism bubble destination and that only fully vaccinated individuals would be allowed to travel to Langkawi when the pilot project is implemented. He added that the Ministry of Health and medical experts have advised the Government to only implement this pilot project when at least 80% of the population in Langkawi has been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
 
Comments
 
According to the Prime Minister, the decision to allow the reopening of the above-mentioned economic activities was made after the Government considered the assessment risk data by the Ministry of Health and engaged with the relevant stakeholders.
 
With the number of daily new Covid-19 cases in Malaysia remaining in the 20,000 range and the increasing number of fatalities from Covid-19 infections, the Malaysian Government is relying on its intensive vaccination programme to contain the spread of Covid-19 in the country. It remains to be seen whether the Government’s decision to allow the reopening of more economic sectors at this juncture is a step in the right direction as Malaysia has yet to achieve “herd immunity”.
 
Alert prepared by Tan Wei Liang (Associate) and Tai Kean Lynn (Associate) of Skrine.

This alert contains general information only. It does not constitute legal advice nor an expression of legal opinion and should not be relied upon as such.