Time to mask up or face the music

These eatery workers in Ampang and Petaling Jaya do not realise that they can be slapped with a hefty fine for not wearing their mask properly. — Photos: AZMAN GHANI, KK SHAM/The Star

LOCAL authority enforcement officers are watching out for food handlers who fail to don a mask, following the compulsory National Security Council (MKN) ruling on Aug 1.

Klang Municipal Council (MPK) said it would be stern when it came to food handlers, in an effort to help control the spread of Covid-19.

The council reminded servers attending to customers, restaurant managers and kitchen staff engaged in the sale or preparation of food that they must wear a mask.

MPK president Dr Ahmad Fadzli Ahmad Tajuddin said it was compulsory for eatery workers to wear the mask properly as this was a mandatory requirement by the government.

“Shopowners and workers who fail to use a mask or wear it properly to cover the nose, mouth and chin, risk having their business shut down for a week for failing to adhere to hygiene standards.

“MPK’s Health Department will not compromise on this.”

He said the health inspectors had advised eatery operators on the need to abide by the mask ruling.

“Verbal warnings are first given, and the next step will be to shut down the businesses for failure to comply.

“MPK will not hesitate to issue a one-week closure to eateries for failing to follow hygiene standards under the local council’s by-law.

“People must be responsible; wear a mask, practise physical distancing and wash or sanitise their hands. It is the new normal.

“Using a mask in the proper manner is now part of the lifestyle, ” said Ahmad Fadzli.

He said that if a shop upon reopening after being closed for a week, still failed to comply, then the case would be referred to the District Health Department or the police for sterner action.

“Food and beverage operators must wear a mask while working as they are serving food and interacting with many people.

“It protects both the customer and worker against possible transmission should they be infected but are asymptomatic, ” he explained.

MPK Health Department director Azmi Muji said all workers at food courts, coffeeshops, restaurants and supermarkets were required to wear masks and practise high standards of hygiene to safeguard public health and prevent food contamination.

He added that the public could report non-compliant food operators going against the mask ruling or practising poor hygiene standards at eatery joints.

Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) Corporate Communications assistant director Ahmad Iskandar Mohamed Muktar said the enforcement of any MKN standard operating procedures (SOP) was done by the police and health officers.

“The SOP at eateries includes educating staff on cleanliness and personal hygiene, wearing of face mask by staff and customers, disinfecting the stall after operations, encouraging the usage of MySejahtera system for contact tracing, and discouraging people in the high risk category such as senior citizens and children from entering the premises.

“MBPJ enforcement officers on patrols have been continuously advising the public to adhere to the SOP.

“The police can take action when people fail to wear a mask, ” he said.

Kajang Municipal Council (MPKj) Public Relations head Kamarul Izlan Sulaiman said its enforcement officers often participated in joint operations with the police to check on business premises.

“The police will check on the owner’s compliance with the movement control order SOP while MPKj enforcement officers check on the premises’ licence and cleanliness, ” he said.

Over in Perak, Ipoh City Council (MBI) stated that it would continue assisting MKN in monitoring business premises and ensuring that people followed the SOP throughout the pandemic.

Ipoh mayor Datuk Rumaizi Baharin said enforcement officers would advise people on the need to adhere to the SOP to minimise risks of Covid-19 transmission.

MBI, he said, would also focus on tourist spots to check that visitors complied with the SOP too.

“I understand that there have been incidents where visitors pull down their face masks to eat while walking.

“I think they should only eat when they are sitting down somewhere, ” he said after attending a gotong-royong at the Taman Star Rukun Tetangga activity centre.

“Not wearing the face mask properly is considered an offence, for which the police can issue a compound.

“It is best for everyone to practise the ‘3Cs’, which are to avoid crowded places, being in confined spaces and having close conversation.”

On the gotong-royong activity, Rumaizi said the event was in conjunction with the Merdeka Month celebration.

“We encourage residents to hold these activities at a different residential area each week.

“With the current Covid-19 situation, we hope cleaning work can also be done quickly and efficiently, so public cooperation is needed.

“Even with the pandemic, it is still our mission to keep Ipoh clean and green, ” the mayor added.

Checks by StarMetro at a food court in an office building located in Petaling Jaya found the workers were either not wearing face masks or the masks were pulled down to drape around their necks while they were preparing food.

Tenants of the office building claimed they had lodged complaints with the building management about the food court operators and building cleaners who were not wearing masks.

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