Traders clean up and sanitise stalls for reopening of Batu Lanchang Market

Ong (white shirt) inspecting the market area prior to the reopening of Batu Lanchang Market to the public.

THE Batu Lanchang Market in Penang is set to open for marketgoers at noon today after a 19-day closure due to Covid-19 infections.

Most traders are happy with the reopening but expect a smaller crowd in the coming weeks.

Seafood seller Ong Chong Wei, 35, expects business to be slow after the reopening as the public is still paranoid and afraid over the high number of cases.

“There will be less crowd as people are still afraid and sceptical about this place.

“The number of Covid-19 cases in Penang is still worrying,” he said when met at the market yesterday.

The market was closed on July 29 after seven poultry traders tested positive for Covid-19.

In total, the Lintang Batu Lanchang cluster recorded 52 Covid-19 cases, with 10 being market traders.

About 80 traders who either experienced Covid-19 symptoms or came into close contact with someone who tested positive took the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests.

Fruit seller Tan Ah Lam, 74, said he lost almost RM10,000 as many of his fruits had gone rotten after being left unsold for almost three weeks.

He hopes the reopening will cover up his net operating loss.

“This is the first time the market was closed for so long since the grand opening in 1986.

“I just hope for better times ahead, and the number of Covid-19 cases to go down,” said Tan who is fully vaccinated.

Vegetable seller Lim Guat Khung, 48, feels happy to be back in business at the market after completing a thorough clean-up and sanitation exercise.

“I’ll be extra careful while talking to my customers,” said Lim, who has received her first dose of vaccine.

A fruit trader who wanted to be known as Chan, 68, said he was relieved to be able to carry out his business at the market again.

“Many of my customers have been contacting me and wondering when the market will reopen.

“I feel relieved that my business will be able to run again,” he said.

Batu Lanchang assemblyman Ong Ah Teong, who was also present at the market yesterday, said three markets in his constituency – Perak Road Market, Jelutong Market and Batu Lanchang Market – had been closed due to Covid-19.

“I hope that with the reopening of the market, traders and customers will take extra precaution by wearing face masks and practise social distancing.

“Traders are advised to wear face masks at all times and abide by the strict SOP.

“I urge the Health Ministry to give priority to market traders and hawkers to receive their vaccines as soon as possible.

“So far, 138 out of the 180 traders here have received their first dose,” he said.

In May, the Batu Lanchang food complex located adjacent to the market was closed for nine days after three of its hawkers tested positive for Covid-19.

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