Supermarkets are among the few businesses allowedto stay open during the lockdown in Malaysia (Simon Roughneen)

KUALA LUMPUR — Heineken and Carlsberg will have to close their Malaysia-based breweries to comply with an ongoing lockdown, the Muslim-majority country’s government announced on Monday afternoon.

Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said during a press conference that the decision was taken after the government was criticized for allowing the factories to operate.

“Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp groups and many more were questioning why the Heineken and Carlsberg factories were still allowed to be open,” Ismail said.

Both the youth wing of Bersatu, the party of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, and the Parti Islam se Malaysia (PAS), which is part of the governing coalition, had questioned whether the breweries should be listed among the “essential” businesses allowed operate during the lockdown, which is aimed at stemming a recent surge in cases in Malaysia to 3,662.

The restrictions have hit several sectors, with the Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association (MARGMA), an industry body, complaining they leave its producers operating at 50-per-cent capacity during the lockdown, leading to concerns that global supply of medical gloves could be undermined.

PAS said that breweries should not be permitted to operate while “denying the importance of other industries that is more reasonable to be preferred than alcoholic drinks.”

Heineken Malaysia stated that it has “an obligation to ensure continuous supply” of its products and “maintain the employment” of its people.

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