Ensuring shops close by 8pm and shoppers keep their distance


  • Metro News
  • Friday, 27 Mar 2020

Shoppers queueing up in an orderly manner outside Gama Supermarket in Penang after the state government announced that all supermarkets, grocery stores and eateries must close at 8pm during the period of the movement control order. — Photos: ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

EVERY shop found trying to stay open pleaded ignorance to the state’s order to close by 8pm.

Seventy enforcers comprising soldiers, policemen and enforcers led by Penang Island City Council (MBPP) swept through all residential areas in Penang and found 15 retail shops staying open on Wednesday.

“I’m sure. My boss didn’t know we were supposed to close, ” said the lone cashier in a 24-hour convenience store in Weld Quay when officers strode in.

MBPP enforcers helped her to pull down the shutters and told her to go home.

The council’s health officer M. Bavani said shops were only told to close on Wednesday night but subsequently they would not be let off so lightly anymore.

“MBPP will lodge police reports against shops that stay open after 8pm. We will let the police take action. Then we will revoke their business licences, ” she said, adding that 3,260 shops were checked between 8pm and 10pm.

Meanwhile, many Penangites were seen going on another round of panic buying spree yesterday, spurred by the state’s order for all shops to close by 8pm and Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s declaration the movement control order (MCO) will stay until April 14.

The Star checked on Gama Supermarket and Departmental Store and found hundreds of shoppers.

But the store had strict crowd control procedures and customers had to line up single file and more than 1m apart along the sidewalk outside. Only 50 shoppers were allowed in at anytime.

Closing early was no problem for Gama because since day one of the MCO, Gama had already decided to close at 6pm.

Robert Lim, 42, said after hearing the prime minister’s announcement, he felt a need to get more supplies.

“When I saw the live telecast, I asked my wife to check on what items we were low on, especially food.

“And with the state government’s order to close early, I quickly came here, ” he said outside Gama.

Another shoppers who wanted to be known as Rosnah said she rushed from her workplace at Penang Hospital as she had no one to help her get groceries.

“I am a single mother. So I am practically the head of the family. The MCO extension really shocked me. I was hoping it would not be extended, ” she said.

She planned on buying enough supplies to last a week.

Gama senior manager Leong Hau Soon said the store was trying its best to help the government’s effort to control the spread of the virus while ensuring customers would get their supplies.

She said the store had been closing at 6pm every day because it did not want to become a focal point for people to gather unnecessarily.

“We want the public not to be worried about shortages. There is enough supply of essential items, ” she said.

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