More stalls to reopen soon

Market-goers buying essentials and groceries at the roadside stalls outside Ayer Itam market in Penang on the first day of the conditional movement control order in Penang. — Photos: ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

ROADSIDE stall operators at the Ayer Itam market who had not been operating during the movement control order (MCO), are looking forward to start business on alternate days.

Ayer Itam assemblyman Joseph Ng said most of the traders wanted to open their stalls last Friday but were confused if they were allowed to do so.

“On the first day of reopening, the situation was a bit messy as many traders were not sure if they are allowed to operate.

“There were some traders who claimed that they were told by Penang Island City Council (MBPP) enforcement officers that they are not allowed to operate.

“I then discussed with the MBPP officers to allow them to operate on the condition that they practise social distancing,” he said during a visit to the market on Friday.

Ng said he has also requested the MBPP to allow stalls selling essential and perishable items such as spices, fruits, bread and meat to operate every day instead of alternate days to retain the freshness of the items.

Of the 140 roadside stalls at the market, 48 had started operating on Friday.

“We will monitor the situation and see what is the next step to take.

“MBPP enforcement officers did some markings on the road for the stalls and there will be a distance between stalls.

“The traders are allowed to operate but they must strictly follow the standard operating procedure (SOP).

“We will give priority to traders who permanently operate here with tags and licence.

“Those who come on and off will be given the next option which is to operate on alternate days,” he said.

At the Jelutong wet market, vegetable seller Lee Ah Bah, 61, said he was happy to be able to resume business after more than a month.

“I was told by MBPP that I can start operating on Friday and business is good so far.

“My stall had been closed since March 22 and I had no income for more than a month. I suffered losses of more than RM3,000.

“We donated the extra vegetables to old folks’ homes and orphanages.

“The rotation basis is good as we are doing our part in making sure that the crowd is controlled to prevent the spread of virus,” he said.

Meanwhile, popular tourist spots like Armenian Street and Chew Jetty were still deserted with only a few shops opened on Friday.

The traffic was smooth with a heavier volume of cars on the roads.

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