MCO piles on the woes for food and drink stall operators at Sibu Central Market

Authorities monitoring adherence to SOPs at the Sibu Central Market (file pic).

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SIBU, June 6: The series of lockdowns since March last year has taken a toll on the food and drink stalls at the Sibu Central Market, leaving most operators bereft of income.

Operator Lai Lee Siew, 52, said he now sits at home doing nothing except to recuperate from a recent illness.

“There has been one too many lockdowns and closures of the central market since last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic that I can hardly remember all of them. I think our business is the most affected by the pandemic,” he opined.

Lai, who last week underwent a heart operation in Kuching, said during the currrent Movement Control Order which will last until June 14, the food and drink stalls at the market are allowed to operate but could only offer takeaway services only.

“We have tried to open for business but most of us prefer to shutter now as we hardly have any customers. This is because as our stalls are located on the upper floor of the central market, nobody wants to take the trouble to go up just to ‘tapau’ (takeaway),” he said.

A drink stall operator had once told Lai that he could only make up to RM10 per day.

Lai opined it would be different if dine-in is allowed as their customers prefer to eat at their stalls.

The alternate day trading arrangement at the market has further compounded the situation.

“We are only allowed to open our business on alternate days. If we don’t make sales, we will be making a loss as the perishable goods cannot last long. Not many of us can afford to make more losses during this trying time,” he said.

Lai said there are over 100 stalls at the market but only about 10 of them are operating daily. — DayakDaily