Challenges of adhering to new norm

Staff on duty outside a shop to ensure customers check their temperature and register via MySejahtera or write in the logbook.

THE general population may have their masks on in public areas but not all are wearing them correctly.

This is one of the inconsistencies observed at the busy commercial area of Taman Dato Ahmad Razali in Ampang as the nation continues to battle the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hegaswary Ananthamani, who works at a telecommunications centre here, said while most people complied with the standard operating procedures (SOP), she still had to deal with a few customers who insisted on doing things their own way.

“Despite the constant reminders for physical distancing, some will step close to us when they are speaking.

“When it comes to registering at the entrances, some customers simply refuse to register, citing that they were only coming in for a short while to make payment or that they had already registered when they came earlier, ” she said.

There are no compromises for customers who flout the SOP at Hegaswary’s workplace.

“These customers will not be allowed to enter, ” she said.

But one incident that would remain vivid in her mind was an encounter with a senior citizen who had gone to the centre one day wearing a dirty disposable mask.

She found out that the elderly man often took to recycling his masks, changing them only after he had used one no less than 10 times! Unable to bear the sight of the elderly man breathing through his bacteria-laden covering, Hegaswary gave him a new one.

She also sees people wearing their masks around their chins or exposing their noses.

A crowd of customers gathering around a food stall in Taman Dato Ahmad Razali, Ampang.A crowd of customers gathering around a food stall in Taman Dato Ahmad Razali, Ampang.

“I have a family and I am glad that the SOP is there because it will help keep us safe. But it saddens me when people overlook the small things, ” she said.

The onset of the pandemic had certainly raised awareness on hygiene, observed

tissue seller Mona Liza Abdul Rahim., She plies her area approaching about 20 people a day. One complaint she chose to recount was on physical distancing as told to her by a restaurateur friend who would let her sell her tissues at his eatery.

“While restaurants are forced to comply with the two-per-table rule (four for bigger tables), little is being done to prevent illegal roadside operators, who sell economy lunches from their car booths, from operating.

“Come lunchtime, you can see customers crowding around these stalls, jostling side by side, with no thought for physical distancing, ” said Mona Liza.

She said not only were these illegal hawkers robbing licensed eateries of their livelihoods but there was every possibility that new clusters might arise due to the inability of these illegal stalls to exercise crowd control.

She had also observed that temperature scanning was not being done properly in some establishments.

“This is no time to be selfish or ignorant. The SOP is easy to follow, ” said Shahul Hamed who runs a moneychanging outlet at a shopping centre.

“People may not realise it but we need to fight this battle together.”

Though there is no physical contact between Shahul and his customers as they are separated by a sheet of bullet-proof glass, he has made it a rule for his employees to sanitise their hands each time they handle money.

The work cubicle is also sprayed with disinfectant every hour.

“It is not cheap to adhere to SOP, especially when business is not doing well. I spend around RM300 a month on sanitisers, masks and disinfecting spray.

“It may not sound like much but bear in mind that since the movement control order, there are hardly any tourists, ” said Shahul.

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