Reopening of spas, wellness centres a welcome relief for blind masseurs

Yap (left) with Nari and Ting(right) showing the hand santiser, face masks, log book and temperature scanner needed according to the SOP.

SIBU, July 7: Blind masseur, Yap Chong Yap can heave a huge sigh of relief now that he can operate his blind massage centre.

On Monday (July 6) Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas announced that spas, wellness centres including foot massage and reflexology centres in the state can now open, subject to standard operating procedures (SOP).

“I can now earn money from the business. For four months we were unable to work as we needed to comply with the Movement Control Order (MCO) that came into effect on March 18. During this period I still had to pay rental for the premises amid discounts, and utility bills. I also had to take care of my household daily expenses,” Yap said.

During the MCO, blind masseurs like Yap, 55, were eligible to receive a one-off financial assistance from Sarawak Society for the Blind (SSB) and Society for the Blind in Malaysia (SBM), besides Bantuan Sara Hidup, Bantuan Prihatin Nasional and Bantuan Khas Sarawakku Sayang.

Partnering Yap at the centre are two other visually impaired persons, Nari Jerayit, 60, and Ting Hung, 35.

“I heard the news over the radio at 6pm on Monday which said that massage centres are to reopen today. SSB has also told us in our WhatsApp group the good news and the SOP to abide by,” he added.

Despite four months off from work, he said they were not “rusty” and raring to work.

Yap said they would not increase their rates despite having to spend extra on essential items like contactless thermometers, facemasks, disposable gloves, and hand sanitiser.

“Our rate is still RM38 for one hour of massage and RM28 for foot massage. We will not hike our rate but will depend on the good gesture of our customers. If customers want to give us RM1 or RM2 extra, we will accept it but we will not force them to give more,” he said.

Yap is confident that once the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) is lifted, their business will be back to normal.

Among the guidelines in the SOP is that massage beds or chairs must be between one and two meters apart to ensure social distancing, based on the floor size of the premise.

Premises must also provide hand sanitisers in general or open areas, entrance lobbies, counters and each room.

Business operators are to ensure their premises and equipment are regularly cleaned and sanitised after every customer.

Customers are also advised to make prior appointments to avoid overcrowding.—DayakDaily