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SIBU, Sept 24: Cafe, restaurant, and eatery operators here are urging the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) to give green light to extended business hours until midnight, echoing the latest scenario in Peninsular Malaysia.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yakoob had announced that restaurants, grocery stores, petrol stations and convenience stores are allowed to operate from 6am to midnight starting yesterday (Sept 23).
In Sarawak, however, there has yet to be any announcement from SDMC. Thus, local food and beverage (F&B) operators are calling upon the committee to make the decision soon.
A cafe owner, Wong, was among those wondering when operating hours in Sarawak especially Sibu could be extended from 10pm to midnight.
“We are still in the dark on the extended operating hours for eateries as there has been no announcement from SDMC. We hope there will be a decision from SDMC soon,” he said.
A restaurant owner, Pang Chui Hua, also requested the same extension of opening hours locally so businesses could resume as soon as possible.
“When will the extended operating hours be allowed for us? If it is allowed, can people dine in? If dine-in is permitted, will the SOPs allow us to take in customers who have completed the two doses of the vaccine?” asked Pang.
Even with longer business hours, he said, diners would only increase gradually over time as people are still being cautious with eating outside.
Another cafe operator, Peter Tang, opined that there should be a uniform standard operating procedure (SOP) for the whole country following remarks by the public that his cafe could be opened longer now.
“I said to them we can’t as SDMC has a different SOP. Sibu (Municipal Council) also has a different SOP. Who should we follow,” he lamented, claiming that SOP that fits all would be easier for all businesses.
Meanwhile, Sibu Coffeeshop and Restaurant Owners Association was all for eateries to operate until midnight as majority of the people have been vaccinated against Covid-19.
Its chairman Tong Ing Kok said the longer operating hours for eateries was what they have been hoping for as currently, they need to shutter their doors before 10pm.
“The proposal augur well for us and the customers. With longer operating hours, we could see better business while for customers, they will have ample time to consume their food,” he said.
Explaining, he said, customers who visit eateries after 9pm would not have enough time to eat by the time their foods are ready.
Tong, however, wanted the government to come out with new measures to curb Covid-19 spread when eateries are finally allowed to operate up to midnight.
“If Covid-19 cases continue to spike, not many would like to come out to dine during night time. It is true that the majority of cases are in Category 1 and 2, but people are also scared of contracting it.
“So I hope that the government will come out with a better preventive measure so that we can have business during nighttime,” he added. — Dayakdaily