Myanmar & COVID-19

Myanmar Govt Lists Essential Businesses Prioritized for Reopening Amid COVID-19

By Zarni Mann 4 May 2020

MANDALAY – The Ministry of Immigration and Human Resources has released a list of businesses deemed essential that are prioritized for reopening including fishery product factories, cargo transportation businesses, wholesale food warehouses and trading companies.

The ministry on Sunday informed state and regional authorities that businesses such as state-owned factories, water distribution plants, electricity plants, clinics and hospitals, wholesale food warehouses and fishery product factories are considered essential to the public and should be allowed to resume operating.

On April 12, most factories across the country halted operations for the Thingyan New Year holidays. On April 19, the Ministry of Labor ordered factories to remain closed until April 30 and not to reopen until the Ministry of Health and Sports deemed it safe to do so in line with its COVID-19 preventive measures.

The Ministry of Immigration and Human Resource’s list of essential businesses includes commodity transportation companies, ports, trading companies, municipal offices, banks and finance firms, job recruitment agencies, printing and distribution companies, information and telecommunications-related businesses, and hotels, motels and guesthouses. It also includes construction and mining companies.

Apart from factories, many businesses have also closed their offices since the Thingyan holidays as the government ordered citizens to stay home and banned mass gatherings to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The stay-home period was from April 10 to 19.

On April 20, some companies resumed business, but many are still closed due to the government restrictions, while some are waiting for local authorities to conduct inspections of their COVID-19 preventive measures.

According to the Ministry of Immigration and Human Resource’s instructions, prioritized businesses must produce an inspection report before resuming operations. It did not state exactly when the businesses would be allowed to resume, however.

In Mandalay Region, about 350 out of more than 8,100 factories that produce food products are being inspected and are due to resume operations in mid-May.

“Food product factories, medical product factories and household material factories such as those producing soap and sanitizers are on our priority list. Inspected factories that meet the [requirements of the] COVID-19 protective measures will be allowed to resume by mid-May,” said U Sai Pan Sai, the Mandalay regional Shan ethnic minister and spokesperson for the region’s COVID-19 Response and Emergency Committee.

Some 280 food factories in Mandalay Region with over 13,000 workers are already operating.

According to the minister, inspections of hotels, motels and guesthouses, food and fruit wholesale centers and warehouses, and commodity transportation businesses will be conducted in accordance with the instructions of the Union government and the Ministry of Health and Sports.

“Preventive preparations for construction projects such as government employee housing are already done. Those will also resume around mid-May,” the minister added.

Yangon has more than 6,600 factories employing over 680,000 laborers. More than 400 factories in Yangon have already been allowed to resume after being inspected and over 1,400 more will be allowed to resume operating soon, as they are in compliance with the COVID-19 preventive measures, according to the Yangon regional government.

The Ministry of Health and Sports has instructed employers to ensure that proper hygiene facilities are in place so that employees wash their hands frequently and follow social distancing instructions. Factories are required to check the body temperature of every worker entering their premises.

Employers have also been instructed not to allow mass gatherings and to use intercom systems, if possible, to hold meetings and communicate with staff.

Employers must also send sick employees showing any symptoms of COVID-19—such as coughing, difficulty breathing, sore throat, exhaustion, fever, headache, vomiting or loss of sense of smell and taste—to health clinics.

According to the Ministry of Health and Sports, 155 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Myanmar so far, with nine deaths and 29 patients discharged from hospitals.

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