Thursday, August 13

No urgency for barber shops to operate during extended MCO, says Utilities Minister

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Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi

KUCHING: Utilities Minister Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom disagrees with allowing barber shops to operate during the Movement Control Order (MCO) while the country continues the battle in overcoming the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

“I personally disagree (with barber shops operating during the MCO) because there is no urgency at the moment,” he replied to a query from The Borneo Post today.

This comes after the Cabinet has allowed several economic sectors to operate in phases during the MCO, some of which include barber shops, registered traditional medicine services, hardware shops, electrical and electronic shops, optometrist shops and full-service laundry shops, said the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) in a statement today.

Dr Rundi said that by looking at the risk of exposure, he felt that the success of Malaysia’s struggles in combating Covid-19 was still “uncertain” and despite appearing to be under control, the situation was still unstable.

He added that the decision to extend the MCO for another two weeks until Apr 28 was based on expert health opinions and was made for the well-being of the entire community.

“The government is not going to take the risk to our people as the situation is not stable yet despite the MCO having a positive impact that has help to prevent an exponential surge of Covid-19 cases as what has happened in some other countries,” Dr Rundi said.

It was therefore pertinent, he said, that policymakers weigh their decisions wisely with the help of health experts.

Dr Rundi is among the state cabinet members observing self-quarantine after coming into contact with an individual who tested positive for Covid-19 during a State Disaster Management Committee meeting on Mar 27.

Following Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s announcement on Apr 10 that the MCO would be extended for another two weeks, MITI had expanded the number of economic sectors allowed to operate during the MCO.

Aside from the aforementioned businesses allowed to do so, MITI said other industries that are allowed to operate are machinery and equipment, aerospace and science, professional and technical services, including research and development (R&D) related to legal practice, oil & gas, and activities related to Covid-19.