GEORGE TOWN, April 3 — A total of 47 factories in Penang have been ordered to close temporarily in the first three months of this year due to COVID-19.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said that the growing number of COVID-19 cases within the Penang’s manufacturing industry raised the alarm to make the Ministry of International Trade and Industry’s (MITI) Safe@Work initiative mandatory at workplaces.

“Considering that we have nearly 50 factories that have been temporarily closed between Jan and March this year due to COVID-19, we hoped that the standard operating procedures (SOP) implemented in the Safe@Work voluntary programme to be made mandatory and strictly practised in all workplaces,” he told reporters after launching the Penang Smart Parking app version 2.0.3 today.

MITI’s Safe@Work initiative is a set of SOP that can be implemented by companies in the manufacturing sector, which covers the employer’s responsibility to provide safe accommodation for their workers and comply with standards under the Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act 1990 (Act 446).

It also outlines responsibilities relating to the management of employees who are COVID-19 positive, close contacts, health screening, as well as measures to prevent transmission among employees by introducing the Safe Work Bubble protocol.

Chow said that the safe work bubble protocol would help contain the COVID-19 transmission in certain parameters by arranging factory workers according to groups.

“Workers working in a group will stay together in the quarters and travel to and from work in the same transportation. (This) would help control the COVID-19 transmission in a more manageable level,” he added.

Meanwhile, state Housing, Local Government, and Town and Country Planning Committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo said that both the Penang Island City Council and Seberang Perai City Council have ordered the temporary closure of some 1,600 premises since the beginning of the nationwide Movement Control Order, comprising factories, restaurants, food courts, markets and others.

He added that to date, both city councils have conducted SOP checks in 1.6 million premises throughout the state.


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