Customers eagerly return to karaoke outlets and massage parlours


Outlet manager Ooi Yin Ming, 29, putting a disposable cover over a microphone while colleague Chuah Yi Ching, 20, cleans surfaces. — Photos: K.T. GOH and ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

ENTREPRENEUR Evon Teoh, 20, is excited to sing at a karaoke outlet again.

“Singing is my favourite pastime. I used to go and sing at karaoke outlets at least twice a month, sometimes alone and sometimes with my friends.

“It has been a year since I last frequented a karaoke outlet due to the movement control order (MCO).

“I wanted to come on the first day of the conditional MCO but the outlets were fully booked, ” she said when met at a karaoke outlet at Gurney Paragon Mall in Penang recently.

Karaoke outlet manager Fiona He, 37, said the outlet strictly complied with standard operating procedures (SOPs).

“We have a UV light disinfection chamber to disinfect up to more than 100 microphones after they are used.

“In addition, we provide our customers with disposable covers for their microphones.

“We have 36 rooms and we limit the number of customers according to the size of the rooms.

“Our largest room can cater to around 15 customers and the smallest room can take in three or four persons.

“In between customers, our employees will disinfect the rooms and clean all surfaces for about 20 minutes.

“We have even ordered a UV light pistol to speed up disinfection.”

She added that to lure customers back, the outlet was offering various promotions along with their newest technologies.

“Last year was challenging for us as we managed to operate for only four months.

“We used to have 45 full-time and part-time employees but now, we hire only 12 staff members, ” she said.

On March 2, the Government announced that Selangor, Johor, Kuala Lumpur and Penang would fall under the conditional MCO category from March 5 to 18 while Melaka, Pahang, Terengganu, Sabah, Putrajaya and Labuan would be placed under the recovery MCO category, joining Perlis.

With the relaxation of the MCO, more industries have been allowed to reopen.

They include cinemas, wellness centres and spas, zoos, farms, edutainment centres, recreational parks, art galleries, museums, libraries and theme parks as well as manicure and pedicure outlets.

Meanwhile, masseur Alan Goh, 31, is happy he can finally serve his customers after more than two months.

“Our regular customers have been calling us to make appointments and business is slowly picking up.

“Some of them used to come every week and many took the opportunity to come the first day we reopened.

“We follow all the SOPs including wearing face masks and gloves when massaging our customers.

“Some of our customers don’t like us massaging them with our gloves on but we have no choice.

“Although we have to spend extra money buying disposable gloves, our fees remain the same as we know that everyone is having a bad time.

“To ensure the health of our customers, we encourage them to wear their masks throughout the sessions and not talk to us.

“After massaging our customers, we will change the towels and disinfect the whole shop, ” he said when met at a reflexology centre in George Town.

Goh added that prior to the MCO, they had customers from other states and also overseas.

“We were badly affected by the pandemic as we are not allowed to operate and thus, we had no income at all.

“Before the pandemic, we could earn between RM200 and RM300 a day as we received tips from overseas customers.

“Some of my colleagues changed their jobs as they could not survive without an income.

“We hope that the virus can be contained soon so that life can return to normal again for all of us, ” he said.

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