SME Association president Michael Kang: “We do not agree to having travel bans between states and districts to go on. It is affecting businesses badly. The SME industry is against this decision. The health of people is important but livelihoods should also be taken care of. ” KUALA LUMPUR: Small businesses are not in favour of any continued travel restrictions even as the country kicks off its immunisation programme. SMEs hope that the government can, instead, come up with a more viable solution that will enable the economy to keep running and for more sectors to reopen. “We do not agree to having travel bans between states and districts to go on. It is affecting businesses badly. The SME industry is against this decision. The health of people is important but livelihoods should also be taken care of, ” said SME Association of Malaysia president Datuk Michael Kang. He added that decisions on the country’s economy shouldn’t be up to the Health director-general as health was only one aspect of Covid-19 measures. Kang said this following Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah’s comments last week that the movement control order (MCO) restrictions such as interstate travel may be eased once herd immunity is achieved. Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said lessons should be drawn from an earlier decision to re-allow interstate travel on Dec 7, which resulted in outbreaks in “green states”. However, Dr Noor Hisham said the decision to allow inter-state and inter-district travel will depend on several factors and will require a joint decision with the government. The decision on interstate travel is expected to be announced on March 2 ahead of the end of the current MCO, conditional MCO and recovery MCO status on March 4. Kang said the government should engage and discuss with the industry before making such announcements to ensure that businesses do not continue to suffer. He also urged the government to allow businesses to operate, noting that certain types of business have not been allowed to operate since the start of MCO in March 2020. “After one year of the pandemic, banning businesses shouldn’t be the only solution that we continue to use. It is not viable for companies and the economy. It is not a solution. “A lot of SMEs, like hotels and beauty-related companies, are closing down their business or selling off their business everywhere in the country, ” he said. He hoped the government can use other solutions such as a more robust monitoring system through tracking clusters and home quarantine cases to contain the spread of Covid-19 rather than restrict travel and hamper businesses from operating. “The government needs to have a proper strategy for businesses to operate amidst Covid-19 because we will continue to live with this virus for a long time and we cannot keep banning travels and stopping businesses from operating indefinitely, ” said Kang.
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