City nightclubs closing down at worrying rate

The night scene in Changkat Bukit Bintang is not as vibrant as it was before the MCO. — Photos: LOW BOON TAT/The Star

NEARLY 20% of Kuala Lumpur’s nightclubs have shut down since the movement control order (MCO) was first implemented on March 18, according to the newly established Klang Valley Pub, Night Club and Bar Association.

Its pro-tem committee chairman Benny Bedi said the body was set up to save more businesses from closing shop.

He added that the situation was getting worse as more and more entertainment outlets were closing down all over the country.

“In Kuala Lumpur alone, dozens of outlets have shut down and I believe many more will follow suit if the government does not ease restrictions and allow operators to reopen their business, ” Bedi said.

Nightlife in Bangsar has taken a dip as many businesses have reported a slowdown.Nightlife in Bangsar has taken a dip as many businesses have reported a slowdown.

When the government announced the recovery MCO on June 10, a total 11 activities were ordered to remain closed until further notice.

Entertainment outlets like nightclubs and pubs were one of the 11 that were not allowed to operate.

“With the exception of restaurants and businesses in pubs and nightclubs with licence to serve food from Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), and liquor from Customs Department, outlets without the required permits will have to remain closed.

“Even my business suffered losses of almost 80%, as we relied heavily on providing food for big tourist groups, ” said Bedi, who is the managing director of Jewel in the Crown, a restaurant and bar in Jalan Sultan Ismail.

This, he said, was despite the fact that he was able to open as he had the required permits.Bedi says the situation is getting worse as more entertainment outlets are closing down.Bedi says the situation is getting worse as more entertainment outlets are closing down.

“But it’s tough as I still have to pay rent for my premises, which is a hefty RM35,000 a month, despite business being bad, ” he said.

Bedi also regretted having to let go 14 workers to cut losses.

“If things are bad for us, what about those that are not allowed to operate, ” he asked.

Association committee member S. Yogendran said a memorandum has been submitted to the government to allow businesses to operate and to save them from going under.

“The committee has not been registered yet. There are about 6,600 operators nationwide, with 3,300 solely operating as nightclubs with bars, ” he said, adding that an estimated 20% have gone bankrupt, while almost 50% of workers in the sector having been let go.

“We are talking about 30,000 people who are eventually going to become jobless if the government does not ease up on restrictions, ” said Yogendran.

Operators have lost a whopping RM500mil in 60 days since the MCO was implemented, he said, adding that this could reach RM1.8bil by the end of the year if nothing was done to save the business.

The committee also put forward its memorandum and presented standard operating procedure (SOP) that took into account the guidelines proposed by the Health Ministry and the National Security Council.

“Without the nightlife, what is Kuala Lumpur? We need to bring back the vibrancy into the city, it will be economically and socially advantageous for everyone, ” added Yogendran.

Hattrick Sportsbar and burgers operations manager Subash Viknesaran said things have been slow and the uncertainty did not help.

He said his restaurant was allowed to open, but they have a pool table and two dart machines which means the establishment falls under the entertainment category.

Gemu Sports Bar & Club, a dance club in Jalan Kia Peng, has been closed since March 18.

Its general manager Loo Soo Tat said they had no choice but to place their staff on unpaid leave.

“My staff have been working at construction sites to make ends meet. Even I resorted to making cookies and mango jam to earn some money.

“It’s not much, but better than nothing, ” Loo added, hoping the government would let them reopen for business soon.

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