Better crowd control at Ayer Itam market


  • Nation
  • Thursday, 26 Mar 2020

Less crowded: Shoppers buying fresh produce at the Ayer Itam market where stalls are now operating on a rotation basis.

GEORGE TOWN: Regular patrons of the Ayer Itam market have finally adhered to the movement control order (MCO) as the site now looks orderly compared to the first few days of the order.

Besides the significantly less number of market-goers, the “mask on” advice in public areas and social distancing were also strictly observed.

The Penang Island City Council (MBPP) has pulled out all stops to prevent the spread of Covid-19 by limiting the number of people inside the premises at any one time and making sure all shoppers wore the face mask and had their hands sanitised.

MBPP mayor Datuk Yew Tung Seang said their one in, one out approach for market-goers and business rotation among the traders had made a difference.

“We limit two customers to a stall at any given time. The roadside hawkers have been cleared out as well,” he said.

During the early stage of the MCO which was started on March 18, the market was crowded with shoppers who stood shoulder to shoulder.

Office supervisor Cheah Teik Suan, 52, said he last visited the market a day before the MCO began and needed to stock up for the week.

“We are a family of five, so things tend to finish fast. The system they have now is great as it makes me feel safer.

“I am still afraid as the virus is invisible and we do not know who has it,” he said yesterday.

Ayer Itam assemblyman Joseph Ng said that besides the local community, the market also attracted those from the neighbouring constituencies.

“Many do not have enough fridge space to stock up for a whole week.

“We can only tell them to stock up as much as they can and only come out when necessary,” he said.

Meanwhile on the mainland, Seberang Prai City Council workers wasted no time in disinfecting the busiest market complexes after thousands of market-goers left the areas.

A worker, who is part of a 15-men team specially formed for the job after business hours are over, said they went home with a heavy heart after finishing their task.

“We go home to see our children who have been waiting for us the entire day but we cannot touch them.

“They have to make way for us to reach the bathroom to shower and change.

“At the job, it is full of risks as these are the places deemed hazardous,” he added.

The team looks after 10 major markets on the Penang mainland.

Upon reaching the markets in a van, they suit up in masks, rubber boots and plastic aprons before preparing a sterilisation formula comprising mainly detergent and bleaching liquid.

They then scoured every inch of the market to make sure no corners were missed.

Although it took less than an hour to disinfect a whole market, they were all drenched in sweat by the time it was done.

Working in shifts, seven days a week, they then moved to the next market.

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