KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 16 — Klang Valley shoppers appeared to be less spooked by the new round of movement curbs that began yesterday, as most avoided panic buying even as recent daily Covid-19 cases reached record highs.
Popular supermarkets within Klang Valley saw little of the mad rush of shopping that beset their premises in the days leading to the movement control order (MCO) in March, mostly out of fear that supplies would run out. The MCO lasted until May.
Those jitters were visibly absent now. Despite the newly enforced conditional movement control order (CMCO), most Klang Valley consumers Malay Mail interviewed said they feel more assured this time around than they did in March.
A large part of it has to do with the less strict regulations under the new order. Consumers said there is no cause to rush for supplies since the CMCO allows them to go out practically anytime.
“As compared to the first MCO, this CMCO is more flexible in the sense that you are allowed to go shopping — of course with a limited number of persons, but nonetheless, you are still allowed to carry out your daily routine. It’s not a complete lockdown,” said Syed Ismail, 66, a retiree.
“What you see here in my trolley is a week’s worth of supplies, and it’s not that I’m panic buying or anything, it’s my usual weekly grocery shopping,” he added.
The current CMCO, covering Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, and Putrajaya, prohibits inter-district travel except with valid passes or authorisation letters.
And unlike the CMCO that replaced the lockdown order in May, all industries and businesses are allowed to open.
This includes malls, restaurants, and food stalls, which means people are allowed leisure activities so as long as they stay within their respective districts. However, only two persons from the same house are allowed to leave their home at a time.
Business premises must also observe strict physical distancing and health protocols. For example, restaurants must limit each table to just two customers. Retail outlets, often operating in narrow spaces, can only allow a small number of patrons at a time.
Two Malay Mail journalists who scouted supermarkets and malls around the Klang Valley yesterday reported good compliance.
Consumers also displayed initiative. At a Giant supermarket in Bukit Antarabangsa, a middle class enclave east of Selangor, no elderly and children were to be found.
The two are among groups deemed highly vulnerable to the coronavirus but the authorities have not enforced strict movement prohibition against them, only discretionary. Their absence suggests families are heeding the authorities’ advice to keep the old and children away from crowded places.
Some like Hafiz Baharuddin, 43, a civil servant, said all this indicates a public that was more mature from the experience of lockdown.
“I don’t think it’s necessary to panic and stock up the house. I think Malaysians have wised up since the first MCO and I think people are smarter and know how to handle this now,” he said.
Business owner Mohd Junaidi, 47, agreed.
“I think people have learned from the previous MCO as you can see today not many people went out to buy huge amounts of groceries,” he said.
“With the SOP provided by the government, I think people have increased their awareness and already know what to do next.”
Still, complaints of supermarket aisles left empty by hoarders can still be heard.
Raven JS, 26, a tech company executive, said he witnessed an unusual increase in foot traffic at the market where he shops for groceries. But he felt this could be due to the lack of clarity in the regulations contained in the CMCO.
“With the current measures taken by the government, I still buy my groceries as usual as we all know the economic sector will operate as usual and I don’t find the need to panic shopping,” he said.
“However, last night I went out to buy something and I saw a lot of people stocking up their food supplies. In my opinion, I think that these people are misinformed about the SOP because EMCO, RMCO and MCO can be confusing.”
EMCO is short for enhanced movement control order and RMCO for recovery movement control order.
The Ministry of Health said last week that the country is facing a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic as new daily Covid-19 cases and deaths reached record levels, prompting the National Security Council to order targeted lockdowns.
Sabah, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, and Putrajaya are currently states under the CMCO.