Extra two hours to operate appreciated

Longer operating hours for eateries means the public has more time to get takeaway meals after working hours. ─ CHAN TAK KONG/The Star

FOOD service providers are glad about the extended operation hours for eateries, but say that dine-ins are the only way to keep businesses afloat.

After appeals by industry players and the public, it was announced on Thursday that the government had agreed to extend operating hours for restaurants and eateries from 8pm to 10pm in states under the second movement control order.

Dining in, however, is still not allowed.

Mohd Aizuddin Mohd Ikram, 32, said the longer hours would mean he would not need to rush to get dinner for his family.

“My wife and I are in the essential services sector and we usually finish work around 7pm.

“By the time we make our way home, we are unable to buy any food as most shops start closing up by 7.30pm.

“At least now we can purchase takeaway food without worrying, ” he said.

Members of the Malaysian Indian Muslim Restaurants Owners Association (Presma) were also glad that the government had agreed to extend the operating hours of restaurants.

Its president Datuk Jawahar Ali Taib Khan said the previous operation hours had severely affected businesses, with some experiencing an almost 80% drop on the first day of MCO 2.0.

“Hopefully, this will bring in more customers as they do not have to rush to pack food. It also allows more time for restaurant staff to clean up and prepare for the next day, ” he said.

However, Jawahar hoped

that the government would also consider allowing dine-in for states under MCO, with restrictions such as two people per table.

“During the first MCO we were still learning about the standard operating procedures. But after nearly a year, we are more aware of the restrictions and our members are adhering to the guidelines.

“A prolonged MCO for a second time may not be sustainable and can put more operators out of business, ” he said.

He pointed out that some 15% of its 4,200 members had been forced to shut down last year.

Ruyi executive director Lyn Siew echoed the sentiment, saying that the earlier closing time had forced most people to place their orders early.

“For as long as dine-in is not allowed, there isn’t a significant difference as most of our takeaway orders come in around 7pm.

“We keep our kitchen open all day and we have noticed a trend of customers eating dinner earlier rather than later since the first MCO, ” she said.

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