Big crowds still seen at Penang markets

BUTTERWORTH: The Apollo wet market in Jalan Raja Uda here remained vibrant with stalls crowded with people in the morning despite word that the army would be arriving to assist the police in enforcing the movement control order (MCO).

A check by The Star found that no enforcement personnel were present at the market and market-goers went about their shopping as usual as early as 8am yesterday.

Items such as vegetables, fruits and poultry remained popular with some stalls having more than 10 shoppers at a time as they stood shoulder to shoulder.

Traffic on the main road was congested as limited parking space in the area led to some market-goers leaving their vehicles on the lane.

A traffic policeman was seen issuing summonses to a few cars but left soon after.

A trader who declined to be named said that although the market was crowded, the number of people had reduced compared to previous Sundays.

“With the movement control, market-goers from other towns are not here anymore. Those here are all locals who need their supply to cook at home.

On the beat: George Town OCPD Asst Comm Soffian Santong (front) leading his men and city council enforcement officers at the Ayer Itam market.On the beat: George Town OCPD Asst Comm Soffian Santong (front) leading his men and city council enforcement officers at the Ayer Itam market.

“We have advised them to keep a distance but there are just too many of them, ” she said.

Seberang Prai city councillor Tan Chee Teong said the council, realising the severity of the situation, had issued notices to more than half the traders to close starting today.

“There are about 350 stalls here and we have issued notices to about 250 of them to cease trading. Stalls under the large building in the middle and those outside of buildings on both sides will no longer be allowed to trade.

“Only those under the roof on both sides are allowed to continue operating, ” he said, adding that the council would continue monitoring for further improvements.

On Saturday, the North Seberang Prai district police headquarters issued a statement denying a Facebook posting that the market was bustling with activities.

“Based on our monitoring at the market from 9am to 6pm, the scene at the market was quiet and there was no crowd rushing to buy necessities, ” said the statement.

It also urged the public not to speculate without prior checking.

Meanwhile in Bukit Mertajam, the Kampung Baru public market was also found to be crowded.

The market is listed by Seberang Prai City Council as among five markets on the mainland which have yet to practise social distancing as they have multiple access points.

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