Malaysia implements two-week MICE ban following Covid-19 spike

Partial lockdowns in some areas and so-called 'political cluster' wreak havoc for events.

A Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) will be enforced from 14 October to 27 October in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Putrajaya.
A Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) will be enforced from 14 October to 27 October in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Putrajaya.

Tightened movement restrictions have been put in place in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Putrajaya amid a third wave of Covid-19. This is in addition to restrictions in Sabah after the recent state election contributed to a spike in cases.

The Malaysian government announced on Monday (12 Oct) that a Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) will be enforced in the above four states and territories from 14 October until 27 October, this includes a ban on all MICE events and social gatherings.

The CMCO is setback for Malaysia's MICE industry, which reopened in July, and follows concerns that a number of politicians (regularly spotted at events as VIP guests or ribbon-cutters) reportedly tested positive for the virus, including a minister in the Malaysian cabinet.

The Prime Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, in his televised address to the nation on 6 October said he, seven other ministers and six deputies together with the Health Ministry’s director‐general (who has been coordinating the country’s pandemic management) were on home‐quarantine as they had all attended a meeting with the minister who tested positive. 

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Dee Dee Quah (left) says VIPs under quarantine can officiate virtually, while Francis Teo notes the adaptability of the MICE industry.

An industry event scheduled for 8 October, which was supposed to be have been officiated by the Tourism Minister (she is not under quarantine) was postponed citing precautionary measures to ensure the health and safety for attendees. 

A Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB) spokesperson said that since the steep spike of Covid‐19 cases, there has been a total of 70 postponed and 20 cancelled events, and assured M&C Asia that events still scheduled to go ahead outside the CMCO areas will have even tighter precautionary measures in place. 

“From March to September 2020, MyCEB successfully secured a total number of 12 business events that ranges from the year 2021‐2024 with an estimation of 35,000 delegates and RM177 million (US$43 million) economic impact,” they added.

Medical Conference Partners director, Dee Dee Quah, noted that while some might have their confidence shaken, MICE events outside the CMCO areas are still going ahead. 

She added that they do see some requests coming in to postpone hybrid events or convert to full virtual and some delegates opting to attend online if it is a hybrid event.

She didn’t see any issues with politicians having tested positive affecting any events being held.

“The most logical option is to either offer the VIP the option of joining the opening ceremony virtually or the VIP will nominate someone who is not Covid‐19 positive or at high risk to represent them physically at the event.”

In a similar vein, Setia City Convention Centre head Francis Teo said that the industry is highly adaptable and would be able to adjust to any circumstances.

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