Nasi kandar outlets expect busy period

Good times: In this file photo from last month, Amirul Hamzi, 29 (left) and his brother Faris Hamzi, 32, are seen enjoying their food at Nasi Kandar Beratur in Jalan Masjid Kapital Keling, George Town, Penang. — ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: Several popular nasi kandar outlets here are anticipating a bustling weekend ahead, with more customers expected following the government’s decision to lift the interstate travel ban.

Restaurant Hameediyah director Muhammad Riyaaz Syed Ibrahim said he is expecting more customers over the weekend.

“Many regular customers have been eager, waiting for the interstate travel ban to be lifted to come to the shop to eat their favourite nasi kandar.”

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, 40% of Hameediyah’s customers were from out of state.

“Currently, we only allow fully vaccinated customers to dine in. We will hire Rela personnel to ensure the standard operating procedures are adhered to and to ensure crowd control. We also encourage our customers to keep their masks on until their food is served,” he said.

Nasi Kandar Kampung Melayu restaurant manager Nizar Abdul Nazer said he is ready to open his doors to both local and outstation customers.

“Since all my workers are fully vaccinated, we will be offering dine-in starting Saturday. We are expecting more customers due to the long weekend. Before this, when dining in was not allowed, my business dropped by 30% to 40%. I hope that business will pick up once the customers are back.”

He said those who craved nasi kandar preferred to dine in to eat their meals hot.

“To ensure customers get to dine in a safe environment, we will prepare hand sanitiser, make sure they are fully vaccinated and all surface areas will be well-cleaned,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lorong Selamat’s famous char koay teow hawker Soon Suan Choo, 73, said she was not ready for customers to dine in at her stall yet.

“Although I am fully vaccinated, I am over 70 years old and I fall under the high-risk category.

“I will only allow takeaway for the time being and monitor the situation before deciding if I would allow customers to dine in here.

“Business has been badly affected as 70% of my customers are from outstation.

“With the interstate travel restrictions being lifted, I hope to have more customers,” she said.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said interstate travel would resume for the fully vaccinated from yesterday.

He said the ban was lifted as almost 90% of the adult population in the country are fully vaccinated.

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