The announcement of the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) is one step forward towards the recovery of Malaysia’s economy. Indeed, the whole of Malaysia rejoiced when Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced that the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) would end on June 9, 2020 with the country entering into the RMCO phase between June 10, 2020 and August 31, 2020. After all, it’s been a few good months since we hung out at our favorite Mamak stalls or went out for a movie or even just for a haircut.
In June 2020, almost all social, religious, business, and educational activities were allowed to resume in stages — including hair and beauty salons and open markets. Even interstate travels are now allowed, except to and from “red” zones. And finally, in July 2020, cinemas, theatre operations and indoor live events were allowed to operate subject to hall capacity while attendance capacity has been limited to 250 people per show while practicing social distancing. In June 2020, almost all social, religious, business, and educational activities were allowed to resume in stages — including hair and beauty salons and open markets. Even interstate travels are now allowed, except to and from “red” zones. And finally, in July 2020, cinemas, theatre operations and indoor live events were allowed to operate subject to hall capacity while attendance capacity has been limited to 250 people per show while practicing social distancing. With the gradual process of reopening, many businesses are slowly recovering, and especially retail businesses. Approximately 178,083 restaurants and eateries in the whole country are now allowed to operate in full capacity but all the while still observing social distancing. But, that doesn’t mean these businesses are fully recovered. During the MCO period, there was a huge shift whereby businesses that relied on brick and mortar sales rushed to join in the digital realm. However, many retail businesses are just not ready to move online. Many of these businesses focussed too much on developing a presentable online platform but failed to streamline the backend delivery processes as in the case of tying up with delivery partners which can cope with their growing businesses. But now that the MCO has been lifted, will retail businesses go back to the way it was before the pandemic hit? Or will they relook into new business models that include expanding their online stores and reducing retail spaces? Or could some smaller businesses just migrate to online stores?
And, what about office environments? The post-Covid 19 workplace will never be expected to fully go back to what it once was. When the MCO was first announced, there was a rush to apply new workplace protocols to adapt to the limitations imposed by the authority. Many companies implemented work from-home (WFH) policies so they could continue operating their businesses. Even with the implementation of RMCO, new workplace social distancing guidelines are now “The New Normal”. Face mask when attending in-person meetings, no handshakes, maintaining distances during in-person meetings, reduced work travels, training and social distancing practices are becoming quite common adherence in “The New Normal”. But the question remains: Will the WFH policies encourage more companies to rethink about optimising their office space utilisation such as reducing office floor space? But no matter how well prepared we are, one fact still remains. We are still not out of the woods yet for this pandemic. At the time this article was written, there have been 220,026 new cases in a single day, a total of 14,263,202 confirmed cases of Covid-19, including 602,244 deaths, reported to World Health Organisation (WHO) worldwide. Therefore, the best advice to all remains which is to stay vigilant and stay safe.