Many eateries opt to wait and see over dine-in

PETALING JAYA: Many eateries are still apprehensive about allowing dine-in customers although the conditional movement control order (MCO) permits them to do so.

For the time being, many restaurateurs are adopting a wait-and-see approach as only half of the members of the Malaysian Indian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association (Presma) welcomed dine-in patrons.

Presma president Datuk Jawahar Ali Taib Khan said the other half were still not confident of the situation or in the states that did not allow dine-in.

Jawahar, who is the proprietor of the Restoran Ali Maju chain, said he himself was waiting for a few days before deciding whether it was safe to open his eateries for dine-in.

“We are concerned about the safety of our workers and customers as we don’t want another wave of Covid-19 infections in the country.

“Restaurants also need time to follow the new SOP (standard operating procedure) which includes disinfecting the premises and rearranging the tables so they are 2m apart, ” he said.

Presma, which has over 4,000 members, has been advising restaurateurs that have opened for dine-in to only allow a maximum of two customers per table, despite the SOP allowing up to four.

Jawaher added that the public was also reluctant to have their meals in the premises.

Malaysian Indian Restaurant Owners Association (Primas) president T. Muthusamy said many of its members were also still quite reserved in opening for dine-in, estimating that only between 20% and 25% had done so.

“From the feedback I got from the members, many are waiting to see how the situation will turn out and we need to be convinced that things are getting better.

“Many say they will wait and see first before deciding whether to offer dine-in, ” he said, adding that even restaurants in states that allow dine-in such as Kuala Lumpur, were apprehensive.

“Our members in Kuala Lumpur are also quite reluctant as the implications are terrible if something bad happens, ” he said.

Primas represents some 1,200 owners of about 4,000 restaurants.

Malaysia Singapore Coffeeshop Proprietors’ General Association president Datuk Ho Su Mong said while the association’s 20,000-odd members were ready to offer dine-in, they were restricted according to their states, as some still enforce a no dine-in rule.

“Coffeeshops are under the jurisdiction of the local government and since many states are not allowing dine-in, we are restricted although our members are ready. We leave it to members in various states to follow the local government’s decision whether eateries can offer dine-in or otherwise, ” he said.

Ho said feedback from members who have opened their eateries for dine-in also showed that many customers were also reluctant to provide their personal information as required under the conditional MCO.

Aunty Manju’s Banana Leaf Restaurant owner Gary Fernandez, however, welcomed dine-in customers yesterday after almost two months of “not seeing them”.

“It is better than nothing. Normally we can seat about 90 customers but because of SOP, our maximum capacity is currently 30 customers at any given time.

“In all honesty, it’s better than having zero dine-in customers, because right now for me it’s about survivability.

“I have overheads and workers’ salaries to pay, so any money that comes from revenue generation can help prolong the sustainability of the business, ” he said.

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