Businesses hold on to hope

A forgotten luxury: Customers shopping for computers and other gadgets at Plaza Low Yat. — YAP CHEE HONG/The Star

PETALING JAYA: With the proposed easing of some restrictions for those fully vaccinated, eatery operators and retailers are hopeful that they will finally be allowed to open their doors to those who have had both jabs.

Selangor and Kuala Lumpur Ku Su Shin Choong Hung Restaurants Association chairman Datuk Lum Tuck Loy said the conditional relaxation would give some aspect of life back to the people who had been cooped up indoors for a while.

“Not all are able to cook a proper meal or order delivery every day and they end up settling with instant noodles most of the time. Imagine living like this for months and how good can this be to our body and mental health?

“Having some relaxation is good for those who have been fully vaccinated, provided they don’t misuse the freedom and ‘spoil the market’ for other law-abiding citizens,” he said.

Lum, who is fully vaccinated and has not left his home for months now, is looking forward to having his morning tea at his favourite joint and meeting some of his old friends.

“The relaxation will certainly help more ailing businesses to get some sales too,” he added.

Weighing in, Pan Malaysia Koo Soo Restaurants and Chefs Association vice-president Datuk Ringo Kaw said the government could consider allowing those who had been fully vaccinated to travel, dine at restaurants and shop at retail outlets to help businesses recover and prevent them from shutting down for good.

“We cannot be locking ourselves indoors all the time. We need to readjust our strategies when more people get vaccinated.

“Relaxing the restrictions for those who are fully vaccinated will give some breather to the people.

“But this doesn’t mean we no longer need to follow the standard operating procedure,” he said.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on Saturday said the government acknowledged that staying cooped up at home due to Covid-19 restrictions could impact mental health and some breathing space was needed.

He said the government was assessing the flexibility to those who had been fully vaccinated with an announcement of “a total package of social, sports and dining-in activities that will be allowed” to be made in the next few days.

Several retail and lifestyle associations have also come together and welcomed the move so that businesses can safely reopen as soon as possible.

“This should apply to all types of businesses, including shopping malls, street-front shops and outlets as well as entertainment, gym, spa, family entertainment centres, theme parks, waterparks and all other gated control attractions.

“This will stop the escalating avalanche of business closures, layoffs and unemployment,” they said in a joint statement yesterday.

The associations include the Malaysia Shopping Malls Association, Malaysia Retailers Association, Malaysia Retail Chain Association, Bumiputra Retailers Organisation, Malaysia REIT Managers Association and Malaysian Association of Theme Park and Family Attractions.

They have suggested that shops be allowed to operate as long as the staff in attendance are fully vaccinated and with only fully vaccinated customers allowed in-store.

“For shopping malls, other than controlling shoppers’ admission based on their MySejahtera risk status and body temperature checks, we will also check their vaccination status from the app and only allow entry to those who have been fully vaccinated.

“So shops in the mall need not repeat this process and the mall will effectively have a green bubble environment,” they said.

With these conditions being implemented, they said it was a manageable risk for all shops in the mall to open for business.

“This vaccination dividend and privilege will invariably create further urgency among the people to be vaccinated.

“Set up more vaccine dispensing centres and ramp up the vaccination capacity so that herd immunity can be achieved faster, our economy can recover earlier and people can live with more certainty.

“We look forward to the announcement so that the economy can restart and recover, and the debilitating impact of the prolonged lockdowns can stop,” they said.

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