Total Lockdown: Labuan Appears to be A Ghost Town

LABUAN: The total lockdown has turned the bustling cities of this duty-free-island into ghost towns.

All non-essential retail has been forced to shut to prevent the rise in COVID-19 cases, which has seen towns across the island empty of shoppers, passer-by and deathly quiet.

It is the first total lockdown imposed on Labuan town centre with people told to stay at home and only go out for essential reasons, like going to clinic or buying medicine at the pharmacy, as the coronavirus cases islandwide continued to skyrocketing with new daily death cases.

Shops selling essential items, like food within the hotspot in downtown are also barred from operating even for take-away.

Labuan Natural Disaster Management committee chairman Rithuan Ismail said many people have already sacrificed so much and this would be devastating news for local folks, businesses and schools.

Despite the Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO) [from May 26 to June 24], cases are continuing to rise and the government has decided a total lockdown is needed to help stop the island’s general hospital of Labuan Nucleus Hospital becoming overwhelmed by this virus once again.

BALVIR SINGH

Deputy president Labuan Sikh Society cum committee member of Labuan Indian Chamber of Commerce Balvir Singh said as a result of this, the usually busy Labuan town centre especially at night has been eerily quiet over the first few days of the total lockdown.

Some parts of Labuan have been placed under a total lockdown from June 15 to 28, following the huge surge in COVID-19 cases, and besides the town centre, seven other localities involved are Kampung Sungai Keling; Simpang Sahari in Kampung Bukit Kalam; water village of Kg Patau-Patau 1 and 2; Taman Perumahan Mutiara Sg Bedaun; Kampung Layang-Layangan; Kampung Durian Tunjong and Kampung Tanjung Aru.

“The streets in the town centre would normally be bustling with shoppers but they are virtually empty, while nobody wants to see further restrictions imposed, it is clear COVID-19 preys on complacency.

“So our message is clear. Please act now and think of the impact spreading the virus may have not just on you, but on your family, your friends, your colleagues, and your community.

“We cannot stand by and let lockdown Labuan town become a ghost town, without a plan, we will see the demise of many of Labuan’s landmark businesses and our capital left devoid of community and economic activity.

“The first total lockdown is upon us, and many in the business community are understandably frustrated…some, in fact, have argued that we didn’t need to end up in this position at all,” Balvir said.

He believed it was important for people to do all they could to adapt to the new restrictions and support the government as it tries to limit the spread of the virus, while keeping essential, business-critical activity moving throughout the next month and beyond.

“We now need a sustainable long-term economic plan that looks further ahead than just one month at a time. For the sake of a functioning economy — and the livelihoods that depend on it — we need to maintain a minimum level of economic activity.