PETALING JAYA: Business operators have sent an urgent appeal for the reopening of those in the negative list including nightclubs and pubs.

The Malaysian Shopping Malls Association or Persatuan Pengurusan Kompleks Malaysia (PPK) today said there is no necessity for any negative list.

“This will allow all businesses to start positively on the recovery journey and enable our country’s economy to be able to recover at a faster pace,” it said in a statement endorsed by 13 other trade associations.

“We are very much elated to note that the majority of our states have now made the transition to NRP Final Phase 4 effective Oct 18, with more SOP (standard operating procedures) relaxations and the lifting of most restrictions.

“However, we are extremely perturbed that even under the Final Phase 4, there is still a negative list including nightclubs and pubs not being allowed to open There is absolutely no information on the route to exit the negative list. We feel that the negative list may have been inadvertently not been abolished and it is of utmost urgency to do so.”

With the entire country having achieved 94% full vaccination of the adult population as at Oct 19, and having accepted the fact that Covid-19 is now endemic, the opening up of the entire economy with all businesses being allowed to operate, including nightclubs and pubs should be implemented immediately, it said.

PPK listed its appeals as below:

● With the opening up of inter-state travel and domestic tourism currently, we envisage the opening up to international tourism soon and the entertainment sector including nightclubs and pubs will be sought after by international tourists as well. If this sector is being allowed to be destroyed and does not rehabilitate sufficiently to operate, our country will lose out one of the perks for international tourists in competition to our neighbouring countries as a travel destination. The longer it remains closed, the closer we are to total annihilation of this sector

● Nightclubs and pubs especially were totally closed since the start of the pandemic and this had resulted in the almost total annihilation of this industry except for those few operators who have managed to pivot to food and beverage and other businesses.

● With the current closure of nightclubs and pubs, the creative, entertainment and gig industry have completely lost their source of income as they are unable to perform now. Since the beginning of the pandemic, most of them have been forced to seek other sources of income in order to survive. With the current SOP relaxations, some have now resorted to busking but income is uncertain and subject to the generosity of the public and location.

● In addition to the operators, the industry estimates (at least) 150,000-250,000 (direct and indirect) jobs are at stake with the continuous closure of the nightlife and entertainment industry. Currently, all the nightlife and entertainment outlets are in hibernation mode with the majority of our employees being on no pay leave and they are currently supported by the wage subsidy program, along with other sources of temporary employment. Should the authorities continue the prolonged closure with no exit roadmap in place, businesses will be forced to shut and we will see a much larger group of claimants for Employment Insurance Scheme (EIS) in the coming days. This tsunami of unemployment claims will be an unnecessary additional burden on the already stressed financial situation of the government as well as on Perkeso.

● The operation of businesses including those from entertainment outlets including cinemas, theme parks, night clubs and pubs are essential to our mental and emotional well being, especially after having been under tight restrictions for most of the past 1.5 years.

The co-signatories of thh statement are:

● Industries Unite (IU) – coalition of 117 trade associations & chambers of commerce

● Malaysian Association of Theme Park and Family Attractions (MATFA)

● Persatuan Pengurusan Kompleks Malaysia (PPK) – Malaysia Shopping Malls Association

● Malaysia Retailers Association (MRA)

● Malaysia Retail Chain Association (MRCA)

● Bumiputra Retailers Organisation (BRO)

● Malaysia REIT Managers Association (MRMA)

● Malaysian Association of Film Exhibitors (MAFE)

● F&B Connects (FBCM)

● Hospitality Asia (HAPA)

● Malaysian Food & Beverage Exec Association (MFBEA)

● Persatuan Pemilik Restoran dan Bistro (PPRB)

● Professional Culinaire Association (PCAM)