Covid-19: Sibu eatery owners confused over when special movement restrictions will start


SIBU: Confusion reigned on Friday (April 16) hours before a special movement restriction was enforced at seven of the 34 Covid-19 zones here.

The Sibu Divisional Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) had, on April 14, announced that a special movement restriction would take effect from midnight Friday to April 26 in Sukun/Lada, Mantis, Poh Yew, Bukit Lima, Tong Sang, the town centre and Tiong Hua due to a spike in Covid-19 cases.

During this period, eateries can only cater to take-aways and deliveries as dine-in is prohibited and a police permit was required as they could only operate at 50% capacity for workers.

The operating hours for eateries have been set from 6am to 8pm.

Cafe operator Peter Tang cited a lack of communication between the police and SDMC for the confusion.

"When we went to the police station to apply for the permit on Thursday (April 15), they asked why we would still be allowing dine-ins on Friday. We told them that it (the special movement restrictions) will only start at midnight Friday," said Tang.

From this, Tang felt that the police, who would be monitoring the standard operating procedures (SOP), were unsure when exactly the restrictions would take effect.

A shipping executive who wanted to be known as Tay said his sister's fast food restaurant had suffered heavy losses as she was expecting that dine-ins would still be allowed.

"My sister had cooked a lot as she thought dine-ins were still allowed before the restriction came into force at midnight.

"However, at around noon Friday, a van with a group of enforcement officers showed up and started shouting at her customers and everyone scrambled away," he said.

A restaurant operator who wished to be identified as Pang said his landlord had told him on Thursday that he could only cater to take-aways on Friday.

"I told him I understood the restrictions were only effective from midnight Friday but he told me he was only acting on instructions from the police," said Pang.

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