Private doctors will be hard hit by new MCO rules, says MMA

New restrictions on travelling and operating hours will have an effect on clinics operated by private practitioners, says the Malaysian Medical Association.

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Medical Association has welcomed the government’s move to add more restrictions to the movement control order (MCO) to combat Covid-19.

Dr N Ganabaskaran

However, its president Dr N Ganabaskaran, said it was concerned about the impact of the new restrictions, including travelling and operating hours, on clinics operated by general practitioners (GPs).

“It is good to restrict movement because cases of Covid-19 have not been going down and we can see that many people are still not staying at home. These people can be spreading the virus.

“But this will affect private clinics. They are already seeing a drop of about 70% in business since the start of the MCO and we fear many will be forced to close,” he told FMT.

Ganabaskaran hoped the government would look into measures to help the GPs when they were battling the outbreak with those in the public health sector.

He said GPs played a crucial role in providing primary healthcare to the people on a daily basis, and were already burdened with several other issues for years, including the deregulation of the fee schedule.

Mydin managing director Ameer Ali Mydin said the limited operating hours from 8am to 8pm were not an issue, as most supermarkets and hypermarkets were already closing earlier.

“Our hypermarket in Subang Jaya closes at 11pm because it is huge and caters to a lot of people, but it won’t be a problem to close earlier,” he said.

Ameer Ali Mydin

His main concern was that private vehicles were not supposed to be on the road after 10pm and this would affect his staff.

“If we stop allowing people to enter at 8pm, there is still the issue of shoppers who are going to leave the hypermarket. There are long queues at the checkout counters which can take up to an hour-and-a-half to clear,” he said.

He said the cleaning and storing of unsold food took another hour, meaning that if they had to close their doors at 8pm, the staff could only leave at about 10pm.

“I don’t want my staff to get stopped by the police, so we will have to close the stores at 6pm so everyone can be home by 10pm.”

Ameer also lamented the government’s decision to lower the ceiling price of face masks from RM2 to RM1.50, saying it would affect retailers who had stocks which they purchased at RM1.70 to RM1.80 when the ceiling price was RM2.

Now, he said, the retailers would be forced to sell these masks at a lower price than what they had paid for.

DeliverEat co-founder Tan Suan Sear, meanwhile, said the 8am to 8pm operating hours for food delivery services were not a problem as they had adjusted their operating hours before this.

“In Penang, shops have to close by 8pm, and we operate there, so we standardised our operations in KL, too. We feel it is better for the health and safety of our riders,” he said.

He said his company had been advising customers to order their food earlier to avoid everyone ordering during peak periods.