Oleochem Analytics – Malaysia announced an extension to the first-phase of its national lockdown until June 28, keeping workforce capacity in enclosed spaces like palm oil and biodiesel processing plants limited to 60%, while plantation and nursery workforce capacity still being able to operate as normal at 100%, according to the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB).
Company vehicles, factory buses and commercial vehicles carrying workers will remain limited to a capacity of only 50%.
Total lockdown makes recruitment of foreign workers impossible for the plantation owners, who must face a lack of workforce capacity right before Malaysia palm oil annual seasonal harvest begins, typically in July — more than 70% of the plantation workforce are migrant.
National total lockdown was first imposed in the country from June 1-14, shutting down almost all economic and social sectors except for essential activities. The total lockdown was permitted to be extended if the COVID-19 situation did not improve.
The growing number of COVID-19 cases in workplace and plantation-related clusters has become increasingly alarming, according to the MPOB statement.
MPOB said that failure to comply with the imposed measures set by the Malaysia Ministry of Health (MMH) will be subject to legal action taken against the business and may result in the revoking of the operating approval.
The world’s second-largest palm oil producer recorded a total of 662,457 cases and 3,968 deaths on Tuesday, according to the data shown by Johns Hopkins University, up from 572,357 active cases and 2,796 deaths June 1, when total lockdown was firstly announced.
Similar COVID-19 measures were taken by Malaysia during the first half of 2020, limiting the production of palm oil due to a lack of labour and causing prices of the tropical oil to rise this year to record highs.