Food operators plod on with children in tow

No neglecting homework: Shamsul with his wife Izyan Mohd Zaini, 36, making sure their children (from left) Alya, seven, Aira, seven, Aisy Affan, nine, and Aaidh Affan, five, keep up with schoolwork at their restaurant in Hala Kalui, Seberang Jaya. — ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

BUTTERWORTH: With schools and childcare centres closed, several food operators have to bring their children to their stalls during the conditional movement control order period.

Shamsul Munir Safini, 36, was seen whipping up local dishes at his outlet in Seberang Jaya with his four children aged five to nine in tow.

“It’s a bit of a hassle but that is the only way to ensure my children are safe, rather than leaving them unattended at home, ” said Shamsul, who runs the business with his wife.

Their children, including a pair of twins, could not attend school or a childcare centre because these places have been closed until Dec 18, which will be followed by school holidays until Jan 20.

Educational institutions were ordered shut on Nov 9 following the conditional MCO.

While agreeing that school closure was vital to curb the spread of the virus, Shamsul said parents should be given more time to make the necessary arrangements for their children.

“While the conditional MCO is something that must be carried out, the authority, too, should give parents time to get someone to look after their children.

“We were left in the lurch by this sudden announcement, ” he added.

Another parent, Mohd Fazli Abdul Rahman, 37, took his four schoolgoing children along while running his ayam bakar stall in Kampung Baru, Balik Pulau.

His left his fifth child – a two-year-old boy – with his neighbour at home.

“I know it’s a risk to bring my children out at this time but I have no other option now.

“Luckily, I have my neighbour to babysit my youngest child. I can’t afford to hire more babysitters or leave the rest at home.

“I guess this will be the arrangement for the next two months until school reopens next year, ” said Fazli, whose three daughters aged nine to 12 go to a primary school while his five-year-old boy goes to a kindergarten.

He hopes any decision to close down schools will include a consultation with stakeholders.

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