HAVE MERCY TOWARDS FOOD AND BEVERAGES INDUSTRY, CHAN TELLS GOVT
7 June 2021
By Wartawan Nabalu News
KOTA KINABALU: The sudden changes of business operating hours of all key economic sectors in Sabah which is cut short from 7am to 7pm previously, to 9am to 6pm as announced by the State Government late last night will cause most eateries to lose their prime time businesses, said Sabah DAP Secretary Chan Foong Hin.
An exception had been accorded for wet markets where they are allowed to operate from 6am in the morning to 3pm in the afternoon.
The Kota Kinabalu MP said the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) issued by the State Government are updated too frequently, making people confused and would gradually make people lose confidence in the leadership government.
"The main reason for the shortening of business hours is that the Covid-19 pandemic in Sabah had worsened as six new clusters were recorded yesterday, which is the highest increase recently.
"Under the same reason, Kota Kinabalu, Putatan, and Penampang were restored from being regarded as one district to back to three districts ... The police will set up more roadblocks so as to put a stop to this traffics," he said in a statement.
Chan added he understood that the new SOP is intended to be good but it is unfortunately unfair to many, especially for the food and beverages industry.
He explained that most eateries and coffee shops will lose their prime-time breakfast business with operating hours limited until after 9am, forcing these operators to give up a major round of business crowd comprising of office workers who normally patronize between 6-9am.
"Only food hawkers set up inside the markets are allowed to operate breakfast business, but not all of them operate breakfast business. For example, the food hawkers at the Lido market normally operate at night, and such restriction of operating telling to stay at home at night is akin to signing these businesses’ death certificate and telling them to go starve at home.
"These operators in the food and beverages industry were put into a predicament where they had no choice but to suffer in silence being unable to speak of their losses of business opportunity.
"Not long ago, the Sabah Police Commissioner had made a great statement that even restaurant employees cannot be seen eating at their work place, otherwise it would be deemed to be "dining-in" and therefore violate SOP. Originally, the business hours were adjusted to 7am to 7pm. Then there were still some hopes that they can derive an income from the breakfast and dinner businesses. Now even this hope is dashed."
In actual fact, Chan pointed out that the food and beverage industry has been classified as an essential service even since MCO1.0.
"May I ask now that dine-in is banned, and that no diners will gather in the coffee shops or restaurants to drink tea, eat and chit chat, so why even bother to interfere with their business schedule?
"The Sabah National Security Council seems to care less about the people’s livelihood in the release of the latest SOP imposing blanket operating hours on various industries, especially the livelihoods of those in the food and beverages industry," he asserted.
He also appealed to the government to exempt the food and beverages industry from the prescribed business hours since dine-in had already been banned and there will be no gatherings or crowds in restaurants or coffee shops.
"As for other key economic areas, work from home should be arranged as much as possible.
"At the same time, the relevant authorities must speed up the establishment of more vaccination centres and obtain more vaccine supplies from the federal government.
"What the state government must do now is to go deep into the rural areas through local leaders to strengthen vaccination publicity and registration," he stated.