Conflicting info causing confusion


No sale: Mohd Zaini looking dejected after shoppers stayed away from the market in Bayan Lepas. — LIM BENG TATT/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: Confusion reigned as residents and traders in the southwest district of Penang island were unsure of any implementation of stricter restrictions under the movement control order (MCO) following a positive Covid-19 case detected in the area.

Fisherman Mohd Zuraimi Omar, 50, who lives in the Taman Teluk Kumbar flats, said operators of many grocery shops and eateries indicated that they would be closed from Sunday amid talks that stricter restrictions would be imposed.

“Initially, we heard restaurants and food traders were only allowed to do takeaways but later we saw customers dining in at some restaurants,” he said.

Mohd Zuraimi said residents in his area were confused with the information they were receiving.

“They are also worried of being detained for breaching standard operating procedure (SOP),” he added.

Another resident, Rosmizan Rahim, 48, a roadside trader, was disappointed with the way the information was being disseminated.“Looking at past experience, the government should have a proper channel to keep the public informed on such important matters,” he said.He urged the state government and Penang Island City Council (MBPP) to take more proactive measures to disseminate information and ensure that it reached the people.

Zaini Din, 65, from Kampung Paya, said some of the information received were contradictory.

“We even heard talk that we are not allowed to go out,” he said.

It was reported that several parts of the state were under stricter restrictions as the number of Covid-19 cases was increasing.

Among the areas affected were Teluk Kumbar, Sungai Batu and Gertak Sanggul in the southwest district, and central and south Seberang Prai on the mainland.

MBPP, in a statement on Satur-day, said roadside hawkers were only allowed to do takeaways and no crowding was allowed.

However, restaurants and coffeeshops were allowed to have dine-ins but must strictly observe and follow the SOP.

When The Star visited yesterday, many shops and eateries in Teluk Kumbar and Gertak Sanggul were found to be closed.

The morning market in Taman Sahabat, Teluk Kumbar, where a 58-year-old woman (Case 9149) was confirmed to be Covid-19 positive, was almost deserted.

Vegetable seller Mohd Zaini Osman, 65, said his business had been affected since Friday when the case in Taman Sahabat was confirmed.

“Usually, the market is packed but now I can’t even sell my vegetables,” he said.

Tourist attractions in Gertak Sanggul, which are usually full of local tourists, were also empty.

Tanjung Assam, a popular site for anglers and holiday goers, was deserted.

UiTM student Noor Aina Nooran, 19, who was in a homestay at the Tanjung Assam beach with a friend over the weekend, said initially they wanted to cancel their plans but changed their mind and decided to be careful.

Bayan Lepas assemblyman Azrul Mahathir Aziz said the situation was under control despite there being a positive Covid-19 case.

He dismissed rumours that Taman Sahabat was under a total lockdown and that the residents were placed under quarantine.

“The situation is normal,” he said.

He also denied that traders in the area were required to go for screening by health authorities.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said Penang had not registered any new clusters and that the cases reported in the past few days were connected to clusters which originated from Kedah and Perak.

“To date, there aren’t any reports of new clusters in Penang,” he said in a statement yesterday.

“If there is a spike in daily positive cases, the Special Committee on State Security will recommend to the Chief Minister certain drastic actions to be taken, including tightening the MCO or implementing targeted MCO in the particular locality.”

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