Malaysia’s Return to Regular Normal: What Will Change?
With Malaysia expected to achieve a 90% fully vaccinated rate by end of October, tourism hubs, as well as interstate travel, are prepared to be open again to all fully vaccinated Malaysians. This will soon see Malaysia returning to the “regular normal” as opposed to the “new normal” that we have been through for the past year and a half. How prepared are we to going back to pre-pandemic situations? Let’s take a look at some of the things we can expect to return to being the same as before, and some things which will remain different even after the pandemic has turned into an endemic.
Things That Will Go Back to Being The Same
Due to the Movement Control Order (MCO) implemented by the government, road traffic has been reduced to almost nil throughout the pandemic. However, it has quickly regained regular momentum as government restrictions on in-office work has been more and more relaxed, with office-goers now experiencing the full brunt of pre-pandemic traffic levels in most major cities throughout Malaysia.
As mentioned earlier, tourism will be open again. At the moment, international tourism is not yet in sight for the foreseeable future, but when other countries begin to catch up to Malaysia’s status of becoming fully vaccinated, international travel between us and them will be allowed again. For the moment, locals will have to fill that gap and boost the local economy in preparation for foreign tourists coming in later.
How can we forget the most Malaysian thing that practically defines Malaysian culture? Mamak restaurants will definitely see a return to the regular normal as their usual patrons can’t wait to relax at the table with cups of teh tarik or limau ais alongside mee goreng or roti canai as they chat with friends over these affordable comfort foods. During the pandemic, when restaurants have their operating hours limited by the MCO, many people would be stuck at home without anything to snack on after 8 pm other than simple instant noodles or biscuits, but now that restaurants are allowed to open until midnight, it is much easier for Malaysians to satisfy their late-night cravings for those simple mamak pleasures.
Things That Will Never Be The Same Again
In a majority of countries across the globe, face masks may become a permanent fixture. Japan was quite ahead of its time when it started encouraging the use of face masks in 1918, following the Spanish influenza pandemic. Since then, it has been quite common to see Japanese people wearing face masks until the 21st century, especially during flu season in Japan. Perhaps Malaysia would take a page out of Japan’s book and see a season of masks that would follow the flow of flu season in Malaysia, from October to January and April to August.
Following the MCO, payments have shifted significantly towards cashless systems. This includes cashless payment options like GrabPay, Touch ‘n Go eWallet, Maybank QRPayBiz (formerly DuitNow QR), etc. Even government aid has been provided via these cashless payment platforms as a way to encourage people to switch to cashless payments. The convenience of this system, apart from the fact that it reduces contact and therefore minimises the risk of transmitting the virus, means that people are less likely to transition back to using cash payments.
As the MCO had shut down physical retail for a significant amount of time, many Malaysians have come to discover online shopping, albeit reluctantly. Shoppers now find that they are no longer limited to what can be physically reached by them, especially since two of the biggest e-commerce platforms in Malaysia, Lazada and Shopee, have opened up their platforms to overseas sellers from China and Japan. At the same time, retailers find that they are no longer restricted to selling to walk-in customers, and with international shipping, they can even deliver their digitally-purchased goods over to customers from across oceans. Traditional retail would still exist, but compared to pre-pandemic levels, most Malaysians would prefer the diversity and flexibility of e-commerce. Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) has a very positive outlook on this trend, so much so that they expect at least 50% of their more than 300 retailers to join their e-commerce platform, shopMYairports, within the next three years.
So there you have it: three things that are expected to go back to being the same prior to the pandemic, and three things that are expected to evolve when Malaysia returns to the regular normal. What other things do you wish to see go back to being the same? What other changes do you hope to see after Malaysia goes back to regular normal? Let us know in the comments section below!
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