Finding it hard to earn daily bread

Customers having their temperature scanned before entering the temporary hawker site at Perak Road while the wet market is closed until further notice after five traders tested positive for Covid-19. — ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

WITH the Perak Road Market closed due to Covid-19 cases, those trading outside the building in Penang keep soldiering on although business is poor.

Despite the Dragon Boat Festival which usually sees a demand for dumplings and other festive essentials, the traders saw few customers patronising their stalls yesterday.

One of them is bread seller Ang Sau Kau, who still sells his homemade loaves of bread while waiting out for better times.

His wife, a clothes seller there, has stopped temporarily as her trade has been listed as non-essential during lockdown.

“Business has been slow as we have lost even our regular customers, ” said Ang, 65.

“I understand the fear as the market is adjacent to our row of stalls.

“Usually, I can sell 40 to 50 loaves of bread but today, I only managed to sell five.

“Guess we will just have to wait it out, ” said Ang who has been operating there for over 40 years.

The market has been ordered to close since Friday after several Covid-19 cases were reported.

It is learnt that five traders from two different stalls at the market had tested positive for Covid-19.

Batu Lanchang assemblyman Ong Ah Teong said the market would be off limits to the public until further notice, adding that the Health Department would follow up to screen all the 55 traders.

As for the 87 traders at the temporary hawker site outside the market, Ong said they could continue with their operations.

Kuih seller Khoo Siew Kee, 73, said there had been a sharp decline in business since Covid-19 cases were reported at the market.

Yesterday was the Dumpling Festival and she had expected “people would come out in droves” to get their festive essentials but it was not to be.

“It makes sense to avoid the market area for now, ” she said.

“Since the wet market is closed, people would prefer to go to one place where they can get everything they need.

“It wouldn’t make sense to stop at two separate markets and risk exposure to the virus.

“Business has gone down drastically after the market closure.

But we know it will reopen and hopefully things will get better for us, ” she said.

Since March last year, several public markets including those at Taman Free School, Batu Maung and Jelutong on the island and in Penaga, Bagan Ajam and Bukit Mertajam on the Penang mainland had been temporarily closed for disinfection after Covid-19 cases were detected.

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