Sarawak govt retracts decision, no extended MCO hours for Ramadan food business

Abdul Karim at the press conference. Photo credit — Sarawak Public Communications Unit (Ukas)

By Geryl Ogilvy

KUCHING, April 23: Business hours for food traders during the fasting month have been reverted back to the 7am-7pm time frame in accordance to the movement control order (MCO).

The State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) has retracted its earlier decision to allow Ramadan food businesses to operate from 3pm to 10pm, said Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah

The decision was made following public feedback. The state government also maintained its decision to disallow Ramadan bazaars especially traders setting up their stalls physically in groups, he added.

“With regards to the Ramadan food business, after taking into account public responses on social media, traders will only be allowed to sell their food through online (platforms) such as e-bazaar Ramadan, where communications, orders and purchases are made online.

“Yesterday we announced that the business hours (for Ramadan food traders) is between 3pm and 10pm but the new hours will be 7am till 7pm including delivery period. We follow the MCO,” he told a media briefing during the daily Covid-19 update briefing for Sarawak here today.

Abdul Karim, who is a member of the committee, said the new business hours encompasses restaurants, hotels and other food premises.

The committee reversed yesterday’s decision following strong public objection and criticism, as many felt that the extended business hours to 10pm would go against the restricted movement order implemented to curb the spread of Covid-19.

The Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister encouraged Ramadan food operators to collaborate with food delivery services such as Helpy, Foodpanda and GrabFood amongst others.

“Delivery arrangement between the buyers and sellers, they can use (existing) food delivery services or other suitable delivery methods. This to ensure there would not be too many people gathering in one place, especially when waiting for their orders,” Abdul Karim said.

He advised food operators to practise strict hygiene in food preparation including packaging and delivery procedures.

“Do ensure health and quality of food are maintained, use face mask, wash your hands and practice social distancing,” he said.

Yesterday, the committee announced its decision to allow food sellers to operate from their homes during the Ramadan fasting month but they are not allowed to set up tables and chairs for their customers to break their fast at the premise.

The food orders are strictly for takeaways, Abdul Karim said. He added that food trucks are not allowed to operate during Ramadan. — DayakDaily