The Malaysian government has limited workforce capacity in palm oil mills and refineries to 60% in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19, AgriCensus reported.

The move was part of a stricter implementation of the Movement of Order Control (MCO) on agribusinesses and was announced in a government statement on 26 May, taking immediate effect.

Failure to comply would be subject to legal action taken against businesses, AgriCensus reported the Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali as saying.

“All industry players and employers must ensure that employees always follow the new standard operating procedures (SOP) that have been set. More frequent monitoring by employers on compliance by employees should be implemented,” he said.

The new ruling would be enforced in enclosed space such as mills and refineries while workers on oil palm plantations in open spaces could operate as normal, AgriCensus reported.

Similar COVID-19 measures had been taken in the country during the first half of 2020, limiting the production of palm oil due to a lack of labour and leading to higher prices, AgriCensus wrote.