It’s not a licence to stay out late

  • Opinion
  • Sunday, 20 Sep 2020

FOR some, having restaurants and convenience stores stay open until 2am means “party time!”.

For others, it means a useful amenity and service, especially for those who work the late night shift, including our frontliners. They can buy necessities without waiting for a day off and get a bite after a hard day’s work.

Then there are those for whom the new 2am closing time is a lifeline.

These are the businesses that have been struggling and incurring huge losses since the movement control order (MCO) was enforced in March.

For them, the National Security Council’s decision to extend the operating hours of all food outlets and convenience stores in the country until 2am is simply necessary.

While business health may not yet be near pre-MCO levels, the additional hours can help these enterprises recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

For those working in the service industry, the new hours will also provide more income as well as better job security.

The further reopening of our economy is what we need to ensure it continues to improve.

As reported by the Finance Ministry recently, early economic indicators for July show that the nation’s economy is improving in line with the reopening of different sectors which started in May.

Things are expected to continue to improve in this second half of the year.

However, employers and business associations have said that more stimulus measures by the government are needed to help businesses continue this momentum.

The government not only needs to continue the various initiatives to support businesses and revitalise the economy but also implement further stimulus packages, financial aid and tax relief to help them get through this difficult period.

This is also crucial to improving people’s well-being by ensuring job security and resilience.

The government will also need to look at how some services can be resumed safely in sectors such as tourism, hospitality, the arts and sports. This will help these especially hard-hit sectors to not only recover but also survive the pandemic.

However, preventing the spread of Covid-19 should remain our priority.

The number of Covid-19 cases registered worldwide topped 30 million last week as the World Health Organisation issued another warning that the coronavirus is “not going away”, noting that it is still killing about 50,000 people a week.

Malaysia’s own cases passed the 10,000 mark with 62 new cases recorded on Friday.

What is clear is that we cannot afford another lockdown as the damage inflicted on the economy and on people’s well-being might well be irreparable.

In line with that, customers and store operators must always comply with the Covid-19 prevention measures and standard operating procedure fixed by the National Security Council.

No matter how tiresome it is, we have to always maintain hygiene, observe physical distancing and record our details for contact tracing before entering any business. It is our collective responsibility.

And business operators need to be aware that extending operating hours is not a licence to stay open until the wee hours of the morning.

As for the rest of us, especially the party people – we need to remember that come 2am, it is time to go home.

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