Let’s be honest – all of us pretty much had a hunch, if not positively knew, the RMCO was going to be extended. Seeing how there are plenty of active new cases every day, both nationwide and worldwide, there is no way of denying our new normal.
On August 28, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced the extension of the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) – which was supposed to end on September 1 – to December 31, 2020. The decision was made based on the latest development, as more time is needed to clear Malaysia of the pandemic. Throughout the extension, enforcement would continue under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342).
According to the Prime Minister, everything is under control but should there be an increase in infections in particular localities, the government will carry out the implementation of targeted measures such as the Enhanced Movement Control Orders (EMCO) or the Targeted Enhanced Movement Control Order (TEMCO).
Now the million-ringgit question is, how are we, the mere citizens, planning to cope with at least, another four (4) months of RMCO, or a possible EMCO and TEMCO? We have seen reports saying around 70,000 people were retrenched up to August. The actual figure is believed to be higher as we have to include retrenchment practised by micro-enterprises, and not forgetting, retrenchment that goes unreported.
The severity of the COVID-19 impact on businesses is unprecedented. It started as a health crisis, which quickly evolved into a global economic crisis at a speed and magnitude we have not seen in our lifetime. Weak economic and financial results, demand cut-backs, supply chain disruptions, and knock-on effects of troubled sectors on employment are the main contributing factors to this crisis. The ripple effects are still unfolding on a global scale and it is unlikely that the true impact of this pandemic can be measured until the situation stabilises.
In February, the government together with financial institutions announced the first economic stimulus package. Even though the outlook is not good, SMEs can persevere against the financial adversities by leveraging on all available resources to help them get through these difficult times. In March, they announced the second stimulus package valued at RM250 billion. In April, the third stimulus package was announced worth RM10 billion. Seeing how the cases weren’t dying down and many businesses were starting to close doors, the government announced the fourth stimulus package in June to help support businesses affected by the pandemic.
Many of the local businesses are affected and although they are resilient and learning to make changes, most of the businesses said they can sustain themselves for only two months during heightened restriction periods. Even after resuming operations, some services are still not allowed, which reduces these businesses income significantly.
While they agree restrictions are needed to stop the spread of COVID-19, they also believe the government should explore further and address this issue so that employees will continue to have job security. They said an extension should also be accompanied by additional stimulus measures to help businesses continue the recovery momentum. It is truly an unprecedented time and whether we agree with it or not, these additional stimuli are needed for our economic growth in the demand and supply chain.
In addition, it goes without saying that the uncertainties we are facing during this unprecedented time is understandably nerve-wrecking, and it may have caused some profound anxiety in some of us. It is 2020, and we are going through a pandemic, it is okay to take things one day at a time. Try not to bite more than you can chew, so you won’t become overwhelmed. The hours may become blurry during this partial-quarantine, so stick to a routine and this will make you feel functional and in-control. Until then, hang in there.