DINE-IN OR NO DINE-IN? SABAHANS ARE CONFUSED
29 June 2021
By Ilona Andrew
KOTA KINABALU: Sabahans were confused and unamused to learn a buzzkill today when dine-ins are still not allowed despite the announcement made by Chief Minister Datuk Hajiji Noor yesterday which is to allow dine-ins from today onwards.
The reason being, the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for dine-ins have yet to be released although the news was announced in the morning yesterday.
Due to that, eatery outlets that opened their doors today were told to cease operation by enforcement officers.
Kota Kinabalu Chan Foong Hin today questioned the laissez-faire after receiving complaints from coffee shop operators and hawkers near Damai, Lintas and Foh Sang.
"They have been warned by enforcement officers not to set up tables for dine-in purposes or else they will be issued with a compound as the SOPs were not ready.
"I find the actions of such enforcement officers being rather high-handed," he said in a Facebook posting today.
He added the way the enforcement officers handled the situation was "as if they are more powerful than the Chief Minister of Sabah".
He also questioned why the announcement was made in the first place when the SOPs have yet to be drawn up.
"In the absence of new SOPs, it doesn’t mean that the chief minister’s announcement is to be ignored as the previous SOPs on dine-ins should automatically apply in the meantime.
"I hereby urge enforcement officers to properly exercise their discretion and not be so quick to punish, especially when it is the government’s own fault that SOPs are not in place."
Meanwhile, Luyang State Assemblyman Phoong Jin Zhe expressed concern over how eateries should run their dine-in businesses with no SOPs in place.
"The chief minister announced at 11am yesterday stating that dine-ins would be allowed, but it has been over 24 hours and no SOPs have been announced.
"This government must be in line while making announcements. Do not share any unclear and incomplete information as this will mislead and confuse the public!" he exclaimed.
Phoong however revealed that no actions have been taken against any eateries as he was informed.
"If any of you (restaurant operators) are fined for dining-in, please contact me," he said, adding that the government should not add more burdens to the public who is already facing the challenges of the pandemic.
Kukusan State Assemblyman Rina Zainal who also quizzed the hullabaloo that happened to the food and beverages industry today opined that it could just be the government's strategy to divert the public's attention from the lack of vaccine supplies in the state.
"How can a top leader at the state level make an official announcement but not prepare SOP details? I see it as an announcement to allay the people’s anxiety without any careful planning.
"I was made to understand that Sabah has yet to receive new vaccine supplies from the Federal Government. Is that the reason why some PPVs (vaccination centres) in Tawau are closed for vaccination?"
Rina also expressed uncertainty of whether the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS)-led Government's competency in voicing out the plights of Sabahans to the Federal Government.