Hawkers in Kuantan caught off-guard by council order


  • Metro News
  • Wednesday, 15 Apr 2020

Pang (in yellow apron) is quite unclear about MPK’s order but will close down his mixed rice stall until further notice.

KUANTAN: The order for all eateries other than restaurants in the Kuantan Municipal Council (MPK) jurisdiction to close has caught many food stall owners and hawkers by surprise.

It was stated in a notice posted on MPK’s Facebook page that only restaurants within shoplots were allowed to operate from 7am to 7pm daily effective from April 12.

Mixed rice stall owner Pang Ah Cheng, 62, said he was quite unclear about the order as his stall was located inside a food court.

“How about those who are under the restaurant licence but operate within a food court?

“Can MPK even issue such an order when the government has already allowed eateries to keep operating?

“No one from MPK has notified us. We only found out about it when a journalist came by to interview us, ” Pang said when met here.

He also felt the order was ineffective as it would only serve to funnel more crowds towards restaurants, thus potentially worsening the Covid-19 situation.

Pang, who had opened his stall for takeaways only since the beginning of the movement control order (MCO), however, would now shut down until further notice from MPK.

He said this would severely affect his business as it had already dropped by 70% since the MCO was enforced.

Brian Aw Tuck Jian, 17, felt all eateries, including restaurants, should be closed if the order was implemented.

“If MPK’s intention is to curb the spread of Covid-19, then I do not think just closing hawker stalls will be effective. It will boil down to the same thing, perhaps even worse, since there will be more people going in and out of those large restaurants now.

“MPK should not be giving any exceptions, otherwise it will be making no difference, ” said Aw, who works at a duck noodles stall in a food court here.

In an earlier notice dated April 11, MPK said all businesses in the hawker category including warung, stalls and static hawkers were not allowed to operate in the whole of Kuantan.

This caused a surge of comments from hawkers and consumers on MPK’s Facebook page, expressing confusion and disgruntlement over the late notice.

Many questioned why restaurants were exempted since it would only cause the failure of social distancing due to crowding at those premises.

Some called for the order to be implemented only in areas with high number of Covid-19 cases.

Others lamented the higher price of buying food from restaurants, especially during these trying times.

MPK explained the difference between a restaurant and a hawker stall was compliance towards social distancing, the wearing of face mask and provision of hand sanitiser for customers.

Kuantan is classified as a red zone district with 80 reported Covid-19 positive cases as at noon on April 13.

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