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COVID-19: Effects on Businesses

The COVID-19 pandemic has wrought havoc in many ways, ravaging many local businesses in the process.

2020 has been quite the year, and the world is still trying to make sense of it all. COVID-19 looms like a dark cloud, creating an unpleasant domino effect, with the global economy taking a major hit.

Over 219 countries are affected, and more than 47 million individuals have contracted COVID-19 worldwide. Locally, the situation is just as uncertain, with projections from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) stating that Malaysia will record 6,000 positive COVID-19 cases. While everyone adapts to this, many industries and businesses are bearing the brunt and have been forced to shut down as a result.

Not Everyone Can Fly 

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With travel in deadlock, the tourism and hospitality industry has been hit hard. Tours to Malaysia have been cancelled and there is a significant drop in tourists coming into the country. Restrictions put in place during Malaysia’s Movement Control Order (MCO) and the subsequent Controlled Movement Control Order (CMCO) further contributed to the impact on tourism.

Malaysia’s three major airlines (AirAsia, Malindo Air and Malaysia Airlines) have had to execute pay cuts to stay afloat. Hotels have had to take drastic measures, even letting staff go. Some local hotels that have shut their doors for good include Holiday Inn Resort at Batu Ferringhi, Emperor Hotel Melaka, Berjaya Tioman Resort and Kinta Riverfront Hotel & Suites, Ipoh. 

Off To The Kitchen 

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The beginning of the MCO saw many becoming kitchen pros; great for the individual, not so much for eateries. When eateries were allowed to reopen, some couldn’t withstand the impact of COVID-19 and were forced to close due to poor sales. With restrictions on operating hours, social distancing measures and fewer people dining out, it has been challenging to keep things going.

In fact, it is said that about 10% of eateries nationwide have since closed, with expectations that this number will rise without a vaccine. This statistic includes coffee shops and mamak outlets, the smaller food businesses. Despite government assistance, some businesses simply weren’t able to sustain. Even the well-known Delicious Group ceased operations this year, after years of success. This has moved many restaurants to offer food delivery as an alternative, simply as a means to survive. 

The Show Must Go On … At Home

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Cinephiles, better keep that Netflix account alive and be ready to pop some corn at home because you won’t be able to see a movie at the cinemas any time soon. Cinemas tried to weather the storm by implementing social distancing measures, however, the SOP isn’t nearly close to a solution as blockbusters curb their releases.

As such, it was announced that cinemas nationwide would be closed until further notice to slow down the spread of COVID-19. The global film industry has been one of the hardest-hit industries in the wake of the pandemic. Locally, losses amounted to RM1.3mil a day. It’s too soon to tell when the industry will recover, but at the moment it seems movie nights will take place at home. 

Goodbyes Are Never Easy 

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The fate of bookstores and video/record stores has been hanging from a thread for a long time, particularly with the advent of digital media consumption options. However, it can be said that COVID-19 was the final nail in the coffin, with former traditional media giants like MPH and Speedy having to announce their closures this year. It’s definitely sad to see them go, particularly for boomers and millennials who grew up with these as constant fixtures. Small businesses too face an increased risk of closure, with 25% of businesses projected to be affected by the new wave currently hitting the country. 

We Can Be Heroes 

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The struggle is real because COVID-19 has certainly taken its toll on not just health, but also the economy. Though there’s a trial running on the vaccine, distribution globally still pose a challenge.

With reliance on technology, diversification, and government reliefs, hopefully, the affected industries will be able to power through to see a better tomorrow. On an individual level, it is even more imperative for all of us to play our parts to flatten the curve.

If we can save the world by sitting put on our couches, let’s do just that!

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