JOHOR BARU: Many Johor residents are not taking the risk and prefer to buy food as takeaway instead of eating at restaurants despite the easing of restrictions on eateries under the conditional movement control order (MCO).
Starting from May 4, customers are allowed to eat at food outlets.
But clerk Tan Choi Lian said she was not taking any chances and preferred to take away food.
“We must help ourselves and take precautions. Abide by rules put in place and not go out if not necessary.
“I make sure I do not simply go out. My health is more important than enjoying a meal in a restaurant,’’ she said, adding that being able to buy food was good enough for now.
“In fact, many people I know feel the same way and prefer to eat at home or pack food from eateries and eat at their workplace,” said Tan, adding that this gave them peace of mind and not worry about the risk of getting infected with the virus.
Assistant optometrist Abdul Hadi Shaari agreed with Tan, saying it was better to be safe than sorry.
“It is up to the individual to choose what they prefer. If they want to eat in, they can as the restaurants are now open to customers for dining.
“Also, food delivery services are plenty and we have so many choices. If I can help it, I do not want to eat out for the time being,” said Abdul Hadi.
He said fasting this year was a different experience.
“I used to buy food from the Ramadan bazaar near my workplace but as there is none now, I am finding it a little difficult.
“My wife and I miss going to the bazaar and choosing from the wide array available there.
“Some of the dishes sold would only be available during the fasting month and I had been looking forward to buying them,’’ he added.
Security guard R. Ramanchanthiran said he had been bringing lunch to work since the start of the MCO on March 18.
“Right now, I do not want to eat food from outside and prefer home-cooked meals,’’ he said.
Ramachanthiran said he noticed that many were not eating at eateries and preferred takeaways even now during the conditional MCO.
For 24-hour Indian Muslim restaurants here, Ramadan is usually the busiest time but the Covid-19 pandemic has affected their daily revenue by 70%.
Johor Indian Business Muslim Entrepreneurs Association (Perusim) secretary Hussein Ibrahim said that under normal circumstances, customers would break fast or have sahur (pre-dawn meal) at the outlets.
He said the restaurants were a convenience for those wanting to have their pre-dawn meals but due to the current situation, operators were still reluctant to allow dining in and had been providing takeaways since the MCO was imposed.
“Also, instead of operating round-the-clock, our operating hours are shorter,” he said, adding that these factors had affected their revenue.
Perusim has some 300 members, with 200 operating Indian Muslim restaurants while the rest run sundry shops, trading companies and money-changing business.
“Some of our members did open their restaurants to diners for a few days during the conditional MCO but found it troublesome,’’ said Hussein.
He said some customers were not cooperative and refused to give their name, address and contact number as required by the authorities.
He added that the 100 sundry shops owned by the association members, selling perishable items such as fish, eggs, poultry and vegetables, were doing well.
“The shop owners said some customers wanted discounts on items while some regular customers bought on credit,’’ said Hussein, adding that the pandemic had affected many people financially as well.
A restaurant owner, Mohd Razul Agil said he could make about RM1,200 daily selling beef and chicken murtabak at the Ramadan bazaar in Kampung Pasir, Tampoi here last year but his income had reduced by about 80% this year.
“Business at my roti canai outlet in Jalan Durian, Kampung Pasir has also dropped since the start of the MCO as only takeaways were allowed till recently,” he said, adding that he hoped the situation would improve soon.
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