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Malaysia says shops selling only alcoholic drinks must shut down during MCO

KUALA LUMPUR – The Malaysian authorities have told shops selling only alcoholic beverages to shut down during the current “total lockdown” to reduce Covid-19 cases, saying these are not considered essential items.

The order to shutter these shops followed confusing and changing rules by the government that have been criticised by the public.

Malaysia on Friday (June 4) entered the fourth day of a strict two-week movement control order that has shut down most businesses and social activities.

The government had at first allowed alcoholic beverage factories to continue operating, but shut them down after public complaints on why these were considered “essential” goods and services.

Total Covid-19 cases surged beyond 600,000 cases on Friday, with Malaysia having the most cases in South-east Asia after Indonesia and the Philippines.

Responding to critics, Kuala Lumpur police chief Commissioner Azmi Abu Kassim said premises that sold only alcoholic beverages will be shut down. They could continue to operate if they sold alcoholic drinks along with food and non-alcoholic drinks, such as those done by restaurants and supermarkets, as part of their business.

He was referring to a business premise in upscale Sri Hartamas in Kuala Lumpur that was ordered to close for violating the approval to remain open by the International Trade and Industry Ministry (Miti). The order to shut it down went viral on social media and raised hackles.

“Brickfields (district) police received a complaint that the premise was selling solely  alcoholic beverages in Plaza Damas, but it obtained Miti approval to sell food and beverages and was thus violating the approval given by Miti,” said Datuk Azmi when contacted by The Star on Friday.

Malaysiakini online news said there were reports that hypermarkets in Kuala Lumpur were allegedly told to stop the sale of alcohol.

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