Stories by BAVANI M, EDWARD RAJENDRA, JADE CHAN, OH ING YEEN, VIJENTHI NAIR, BRENDA C’HNG and FARID WAHAB
DESPITE the conditional movement control order (MCO) allowing restaurants to open for dine-ins, Selangor will only allow it to operate via takeaway, drive-through and deliveries.
In a statement by Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari, he said businesses could operate from 7am to 10pm as allowed in the conditional MCO which begins today.
“However, roadside stalls and food trucks can only begin operations from May 12 to allow the local authorities and food traders enough time to arrange for social distancing and contact tracing,” he said.
Food court and restaurant operators in Klang do not feel safe to open for dine-in customers as yet, although they are still allowing for takeaways and deliveries.
Klang and Selangor Coastal Coffee, Tea, Restaurant Merchants Association are supportive of its members wanting to keep their dine-in areas closed.
Its secretary Yet Jean Ching said majority of its members felt safety of its workers and customers was paramount.
“Our 300 members have discussed this matter and felt it was not the right time to open for dine-in as the risk is too high.
“It will be difficult to comply with the rules as they will need extra staff to record customers’ personal particulars and sanitise the premises,” he said.
Yet added that they had optimised their workers to prepare food for deliveries with stringent hygiene practices.
Malaysian Indian Restaurant Owners Association president T. Muthusamy advised members severely affected by the MCO to weigh the risks of opening for dine-in.
“I have told the members to be patient and give a little more time, although most of of them are struggling with rental and workers’ salary,” he said.
Restaurant Vasagaie owner K. Kanna said his restaurant would remain closed except for takeaways and deliveries.
“We will not risk the health of our customers and workers,” he said.
Peggy Chee, who sells ais kacang and cendol at Gerai Minum Weng Kee in Medan Selera Jalan Othman, Petaling Jaya, said the food court was unlikely to be reopened today.
“The food court was scheduled for sanitising yesterday,” said Chee.
The food court has been closed since the MCO was enforced on March 18.
It is located next to Pasar Jalan Othman or PJ Old Town Market, which was closed last week for sanitisation after the first trader tested positive for Covid-19.
Chee said the food court operators would refer to Petaling Jaya City Council’s (MBPJ) instructions on when to reopen as it manages the food court.
Pandian Muthusamy, who runs a stall offering banana leaf meals at the Selera Wawasan food court in SS3, Petaling Jaya, planned to open his stall midweek (May 6) as he needed time to make the necessary preparations.
“I need to buy fresh ingredients and thoroughly clean my stall.
“Everything needs to be clean and customers will get to enjoy freshly cooked food,” said Pandian, who has been in business for over 20 years.
Tapak, which manages six food truck parks across the Klang Valley, intends to reopen soon, after checking with the respective local councils on their SOP.
There are approximately 400 food trucks registered with Tapak. It has three food truck parks each in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur.
Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ) president Datuk Abdul Hamid Hussain said specific guidelines on food courts, roadside stalls and food trucks have been drawn.
“For now, we will follow the guidelines for the food sector by the National Security Council (MKN) and will upgrade it if there is a need,” he said.
The guideline by MKN states that food trucks, mobile traders and roadside hawkers are allowed to operate from 5am to midnight, allowing customers from 7am to 10pm.
Stall owners must also record their workers’ body temperature while ensuring a minimum distance of 1m among customers.
Operators also needed to prepare alcohol-based hand sanitisers and use liquid detergent containing sodium hypochlorite, a bleaching agent, in line with Health Ministry guidelines.
The use of biodegradable cutlery is encouraged.
Kajang Municipal Council (MPKj) public relations officer Kamarul Izlan Sulaiman said they were waiting for further instructions from the Selangor government regarding the guidelines.