KUALA LUMPUR: The retail associations in Malaysia hope that all malls and retail outlets can be reopened by July 15 or once the 10 per cent vaccination target is achieved, whichever is earlier.

Malaysia Shopping Malls Association (PPK Malaysia) president Tan Sri Teo Chiang Kok said malls or retail operators have been valiantly struggling for the past 16 months with critical cash flow, and any prolongation would simply be the final knell for businesses and the industry as a whole.

“We truly appreciate and are relieved that the vaccination programme has been accelerated and that more than 10 per cent of the population would likely be vaccinated with two doses by July 15, 2021,” he said during the virtual press conference on the urgent and desperate plea to reopen the retail sector.

The event was joined by several retail associations including PPK Malaysia, Malaysia Retailers Association, Bumiputra Retailers Organisation, Malaysian REIT Managers Association, Malaysia Retail Chain Association and Malaysian Association of Theme Park and Family Attractions.

“We also welcome the news that as of June 30, about 17.7 per cent of our population has already been vaccinated with the first dose, and 7.1 per cent fully vaccinated with two doses.

Teo said that even with just 17.7 per cent completing their first dose, it has been proven that 70 per cent efficacy would already have been achieved.

He elaborated that retail staff only deal with transient shoppers in business outlets which were typically less than 15 minutes which is the threshold of safe interaction unlike activities at places such as factories and offices where the co‐workers work together for hours.

“Studies have indicated that this short period of interaction between shoppers and our staff do not contribute to infectivity as it is compulsory for both parties to wear masks. Hence, malls and retail outlets including those standalone shops in shopping areas are indeed safe places for the public to go to with peace of mind,” he said.

He believed the only solution to manage the livelihood and lives of people in the country is to accelerate the vaccination programme to bring about faster economic recovery.

“We have to accept that Covid-19 will remain part of our lives and move forward as the economy cannot afford to remain closed continually.

“Otherwise, we foresee that almost 500,000 employees engaged in the shopping mall and retail industries will eventually be laid off,” he added.

-Bernama