Following a move by the police to shut down a liquor store in Kuala Lumpur as well as reports that hypermarkets were allegedly told to stop the sale of alcohol, confusion arose among Malaysians on whether hypermarkets and grocers could sell alcoholic beverages.
To set things straight, Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Rosol Wahid confirmed that the sale of alcoholic beverages is banned at all premises during the current “total lockdown” period as it is not an essential item.
However, he said cigarettes – while also not an essential good – can still be sold to avoid “problems” with addicts.
“Although they are non-essential under (the SOPs from the) NSC, they are still ‘essential’ to cigarette addicts. We can’t stop its sale, otherwise, there will be problems. Only smokers will understand. Without cigarettes, it will be a huge burden for them,” Rosol said, according to news portal The Vibes.
He added that cigarettes were not on the negative list provided by the NSC. In fact, the NSC negative list only specifically prohibits liquor shops and factories from operating, not the sale of alcoholic beverages.
Meanwhile, Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob had said there was no ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages specifically, citing convenience stores like 7-11 as an example.