Calling for clearer SOP guidelines

PETALING JAYA: The authorities should be considerate when conducting enforcement to catch those who flout the conditional movement control order (MCO), say operators of Chinese chain restaurants and banquets.

Persatuan Restoran Selangor dan Wilayah Persekutuan Ku Su Shin Choong Hung chairman Datuk Lum Tuck Loy said there had been cases where enforcement officers came shortly before restaurants’ closing time at 10pm.

“Moments later, they entered and hauled up the operators for opening beyond the stipulated time frame.

“This is a bane to our already badly-hit business as we cannot ask the customers to eat quickly and leave on the dot at closing time, ” he told a press conference yesterday.

The association had approached MCA Public Services and Complaints Department head Datuk Seri Michael Chong for advice following concerns over the daily enforcement operations during the conditional MCO.

Association vice-chairman Sia Boon Kong said the guidelines and standard operating procedure (SOP) were confusing and not standardised.

Sia said there were apparent discrepancies between what were allowed in the guidelines and those during enforcement.

“We are not against the government or trying to question the SOP but there should be clearer guidelines for restaurant operators, ” he said.

Relating a recent case, Sia said several patrons, a restaurant operator and his staff were taken to the police station for violating the order.

“Several officers arrived at the restaurant in Petaling Jaya shortly after closing time at 10pm.

“There were a few customers at a table with their drinks while workers were busy cleaning up the place.

“It is common that some may take a bit more time to finish up and leave at the same time with the workers.

“The enforcement officers should have been more considerate and reasonable, ” he said, adding that the restaurant operator settled all the compounds issued to the customers and workers.

According to the National Security Council, restaurants with premises which include food courts and covered roadside stalls are permitted to operate with 100% staff capacity between 5am and midnight.

But they can only serve customers from 7am to 10pm, and the tables must be arranged two metres apart. Also, customers must maintain a minimum social distance of one metre while dining in.

Sia also called on the authorities to let chain restaurants with large seating capacity to operate by adhering to a set of guidelines, including the practice of social distancing.

“The current SOP is more suitable for smaller restaurants, while most of our members’ businesses are bigger, with large banquet halls of between 50,000 and 90,000 square metres that can accommodate up to 200 large tables.

“We are ready to install disinfection boxes at entrances, along with other stringent measures to help patrons maintain hygiene, ” he said, adding that the association was in the midst of finalising a set of SOP for bigger restaurants and would propose it to the government.

Sia said some members have decided to close their businesses and while others opted to temporarily halt operations due to many uncertainties, including the fear of running foul with the law.

“Our members have been losing between RM250,000 and RM300,000 daily by not operating, ” he said.

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