Huttons' views on Malaysia lock-down
The announcement was sudden and out of the blue – lock down of Malaysia for two weeks from 18 March to 31 March.
All Malaysians are prohibited from leaving the country. Those who return from overseas will have to go through health checks and go on a 14-day self-quarantine. Foreign visitors, including tourists, will also not be allowed to enter Malaysia during this period.
According to Singapore authorities, some 300,000 people use the land crossings at Woodlands and Tuas daily for work, study, shop and holiday.
The immediate impact will be felt by businesses (particularly factories, transport operators and renovation companies) who employ Malaysians. Business operations may be disrupted during these two weeks. It is highly unlikely that these businesses will resort to hiring short term labour for two weeks. These affected workers have four options:
1) Stay in Malaysia for two weeks which is not preferred as they will suffer a drop in income;
2) Stay with relatives in Singapore which is highly likely as many Malaysians have relatives who stay in Singapore; or
3) Bunk up with fellow co-workers in budget hotels; or
4) Rent a room with fellow co-workers
The last two options are not likely unless the company is willing to pay for the workers.
For students who commute daily, the same four options are open to them but the last two options are again not likely unless one parent/guardian accompanies them to Singapore. It again leaves option 2 as the most likely case.
Therefore we do not foresee a spike in short term rentals be it for hotels or rooms due to the lock-down in Malaysia.
Having said that, the Covid-19 situation is fluid and strategies are continuously evolving to contain the virus. Malaysians may want to consider renting a room in Singapore for three months in case of an extended lock-down.
Note: It is against Singapore laws to let out a room for less than three months.