PETALING JAYA: Despite being an industry that has always had a culture of standard operating procedure (SOP) adherence and practice of strict hygiene, Malaysian spa operators are wondering why they are still not allowed to re-open for business.
According to a joint statement by Association of Malaysian Spas (AMSPA) and Malaysian Association Of Wellness & Spa (MAWSPA), wearing masks and gloves are nothing new to the industry - even way before Covid-19.
AMSPA president Datin Jeanette Tambakau and MAWSPA president Datin Dorothea Justin pointed out that on their own accord, the two associations joined resources and formed the MAWSPA-AMSPA Covid-19 Special Task Force to secure and protect the interests, security and health of its members and their clients.
“At the latest round, barbers, hairdressers and beauty salons are allowed to reopen with immediate effect.
“Our question is, why are genuine spas and reflexology centres left out?” Jeanette and Dorothea said.
They said that it has always been a long and arduous journey for the Malaysian spa and reflexology industries to be recognised as a contributor to the health and wellness industry.
Unfortunately, these two industries are fraught with challenges, especially for those who want to operate a genuine wellness business, they said.
They added that the lack of proper licensing and effective enforcement by the authorities had led to the inappropriate use of the word ‘spa’ and ‘reflexology’ by illegal and immoral operators, thereby smearing the good name of the whole industry.
“However, this is an issue to be discussed at a different time. More urgently, Covid-19 has brought many businesses to a near-standstill and the government is trying its best to help many businesses to withstand and survive the ravages of the pandemic.
“But despite being members of two genuine spa associations, AMSPA and MAWSPA; which are recognised not just in Malaysia but in the region for the standards they instill in and demand from their members, we are still not allowed to open for business,” they lamented.
They also said the MAWSPA-AMSPA Covid-19 Special Task Force came out with a very comprehensive SOP manual for the benefit of their members, and it is tailored to have the highest level of safety and hygiene management that had become crucial in view of Covid-19.
“We dare say it is one of the most comprehensive SOPs produced by an industry to combat the risk of contracting Covid-19. This has been submitted to the health ministry, international trade and industries ministry and MOTAC (ministry of tourism arts and culture),” they pointed out.
The two spa associations also plan to hold training on the SOP for their members to ensure they know and follow the correct SOPs designed to follow government requirements and guidelines.
“And despite this and our efforts in coming out with the ‘Safe to Spa Campaign’ to self regulate our members and to help the spa-going community recognise outlets that are safe to spa in, we are still waiting for the green light from the relevant authorities to operate,” they said.
Many of AMSPA and MAWSPA member spas and reflexology centres had been star-rated by MOTAC, adding that the industry is a crucial tourist attraction to boost domestic tourism, which would in turn help hotels to survive and recover.
“Clients have been ringing to find out when outlets would resume operations. The genuine spa operators are suffering with many on the brink of closure if they are not allowed to open after months of zero income. They are not able to pay salaries and meet overhead commitments,” they said.
According to them, AMSPA and MAWSPA conducted a survey on March 19 to assess the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and how the government could support the spa and wellness industry based on feedback from the members.