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By Lian Cheng
KUCHING, Sept 15: More than 70 per cent of respondents voted ‘yes’ in two DayakDaily polls on whether the ban on dine-ins should be lifted by the authorities despite high Covid-19 daily caseloads reported in the last two weeks.
On Sept 13, DayakDaily conducted two simple polls on its Facebook page and website respectively to gauge the general response of Sarawakians on the issue.
The Facebook poll was up and running on Monday (Sept 13) at about 3pm and ended after 24 hours.
The question posed was “Should the authorities in Sarawak consider reallowing dine-ins now that we have entered the post vaccination era of Covid-19, or should more precautions be taken? Voters were given a choice to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on the issue.
A total of 281 DayakDaily Facebook followers voted, with 199 or 71.8 per cent choosing ‘yes’, while 82 of them chose otherwise.
In the post on the subject, there were 35 comments, with most supportive of lifting the ban on dine-ins.
Facebook user ‘Moris Moris’ put forth an argument questioning: “Is there evidence that links the increase in infection rates to dine-in? Sibu and Bintulu experienced some increase in infection rates the last few days and both towns allowing dine-ins. Is there any link at all? On the other hand, dine-ins are banned in Kuching but infection rates jumped sky high.”
Another user named ‘Peter Asut’ commented: “As we approach the endemic stage, dine-ins should be allowed with strict compliance to SOP (standard operating procedure).
Facebook user ‘Nelson Tay Tay’ pointed out that while dine-ins were banned, cases continued to surge.
“Did you notice? No dine-ins but Covid-19 cases still rising steadily. But if you the authority in charge still wants to continue with no dine-ins, you can see the rising number of bankrupt food shop owners. Think first before you act,” he wrote.
‘Hamcus Sarawak’ argued from another perspective: “Just look at all the EMCO (Enhanced Movement Control Order) areas. You will find your answer there. It averages 40 per cent kampungs, and 40 per cent longhouses, 15 per cent workplace/service and five per cent others. This data is constant for a good part of the last 12 months. Why punish the businesses?”
Netizen ‘Lynn Cheang’ on the other hand, argued that: “It was a silly idea to ban dine-ins especially in Kuching areas, in non-air-conditioned eateries in the first place when we have transitioned to Phase 2. Wasn’t there a news report that quoted or was it the mayor who said that there were no clusters resulting from dine-ins?”
On the DayakDaily website, a pop-up poll with the question “Should the Sarawak government allow dine-ins in Sarawak?” was posted at about 4pm on Monday (Sept 13) where the respondents were given similar options of a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’. The poll lasted until tonight (Sept 15) at 10pm.
Likewise, the three-day pop-up poll showed a very similar result where out of the total votes of 4,510, as many as 3,236 or 71.7 per cent voted for ‘yes’ and 1,274 or 28.2 expressed their preference of banning dine-ins.
Due to the low number of Covid-19 positive cases prior to August, SDMC has allowed dine-ins in Sibu and Miri, which have both moved into Phase 3 of the National Recovery Plan (NRP).
In the same period of time, Kuching and other districts within the division, there have been multiples outbreaks in different parts. Due to the high number of cases, SDMC decided to ban dine-in in Southern Sarawak and all districts within the region maintained its NRP Phase 2 status.
On Sept 5, the last day of the recent dine-in ban order, cases in the Southern Region continued to surge, resulting in SDMC deciding to maintain Phase 2 of the NRP in the affected area while extending the ban on dine-ins to Sept 19.
Daily caseloads in Sarawak spiked to 5,291 cases on Sept 12, topping the national daily statistics.
Amid such high number of positive cases and the fact that the food and beverage industry are adversely impacted, it would be another tough decision for SDMC to decide whether or not to extend its ban on dine-ins in Southern Sarawak, or even the whole of Sarawak, since cases in Sibu and Miri are also on the rise. — DayakDaily