Some have to forgo lucrative CNY revenue

GEORGE TOWN: With Chinese New Year less than a month away, it would have been a busy period for businesses like hair salons and reflexology centres as people want to get a new hairdo or feel reinvigorated before the year turns.

But the MCO period – which runs until Jan 26 in many states, including Penang – has put a halt to hairdressing and other similar services, which are not allowed to operate.

Hairdresser Derrick Ooi, 41, said he had no choice but to cancel customers’ appointments.

“This is the first time in my 21 years in the industry that I have to call off my customers’ bookings during the Chinese New Year season.

“Many customers have made appointments to have their hair done since one-and-a-half months ago. Since last month, we have done about 10% to 20% of our Chinese New Year bookings.

“However, we will have to cancel the remaining 80% bookings. To boost sales, we are selling vouchers online to our regular customers, ” he said.

Ooi’s salon has around 180 employees who are currently working from home, selling vouchers online.

Reflexology centre owner Loke Thiam Hua, 53, said he cancelled over 40 reservations.

“Some of our regular customers have booked for their massage earlier as they would be busy during Chinese New Year or because they were worried we would not be open during the festive season, ” he said, adding that he still pays 40 employees.

“As our business slowly recovered in the past few months, I’ve hired three new masseurs.

“I am still paying my staff but if the situation continues, I may have to reduce the number of workers.

“I hope the situation will improve and the MCO will not be extended. If not, I may have to close down some of my shops, ” he said.

Pasar malam trader Vincent Goh, 33, is selling braised meat rice at a coffee shop during the MCO period.

“Before the MCO, I would sell braised meat rice at a coffee shop in the morning and then at a pasar malam.

“Now that night markets are not allowed to operate, I can only depend on my business in the morning.

“Luckily, I rented a stall during the first MCO as a backup plan. During the first MCO, my income decreased by more than 50%.

“Although my income is low for the time being, I will use this time to get some rest and spend more time with my family, ” he said.

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