Sogo, Isetan announce temporary closure amid confusion over ever-changing Covid SOPs

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Popular departmental store Sogo KL said today it would temporarily shut down to comply with the First Phase of the National Recovery Plan, in yet another sign of confusion that has resulted from the constantly changing standard operating procedures.

The move comes two days after Isetan said it would do the same following growing public criticism on social media. Critics argued that departmental stores are not essential services and should not be allowed to operate.

Sogo’s management said in a short statement issued this morning that it would temporarily close starting today until further notice.

Firdaus Latif

The departmental store, located on Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman here, had been operating since most parts of Selangor and several localities in the capital city had been placed under tight restrictions a week ago.

Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, however, is not among the areas put under the enhanced movement control order.

“In compliance with the latest SOP from the Authorities, please note that all our Sogo Stores will be closed from 11 July 2021, (Sun) until further notice,” it said.

“Nevertheless, you may shop for your daily needs at our Supermarket @ Sogo KL, which will be open from 10:00am to 8:00pm daily.”

Two days prior, Isetan’s management said it would halt most of its business operations starting today following the “updated” SOPs announced by the National Security Council issued on July 9.

Departmental stores were allowed to remain open before that, based on the NSC’s SOPs issued prior to July 9. In the SOPs provided by the council on July 6, departmental stores, alongside markets and supermarkets were among businesses approved for opening.

The council then tweaked the SOP on July 9 to state that only shops that sell “basic necessities” inside the departmental stores will be allowed to open.

The Isetan management said only its Japanese-themed market, the main market, an optical store, a pharmacy, and the food court The Table inside the Lot 10 Shopping Mall on Jalan Bukit Bintang here would remain open until further notice

Isetan has several stores throughout the Klang Valley.

Retailers in June had warned of mass closures should the lockdown prolongs beyond July, according to industry associations, who said that up to 30 per cent of its members have already been forced to shutter permanently as the movement curbs took a heavy toll on income.

Up to 300,000 workers have been put out of job because of the mass shutdown, the groups said.

They have since urged the government to allow retail premises to reopen for business next month.

The NSC said the transition to the Second Phase of the NRP, which will see some restrictions loosened, will hinge on the decrease of daily infection cases to below 4,000, “moderate” use of ICUs and a vaccination rate of more than 10 percent of a state’s population. – MMO