THE reimplementation of the movement control order (MCO) beginning today has seen stricter precautionary measures being adopted in Penang.
Penangites in general, especially in food complexes, public markets and shopping malls, were seen to have been continuously adhering to the standard operating procedures (SOPs).
Despite the clear-cut positive compliance with SOPs, businesses for hawkers and market traders in premises under both the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) and Seberang Perai City Council (MBSP) got off to a rather slow start this morning (13 Jan).
Buletin Mutiara approached several business operators in the said premises to get their views.
Muhammad Faizee Suhaimi, a food stall operator at the Bayan Baru Market food court for over 20 years, said the place has gotten quieter now that MCO is back.
On a normal day before the return of MCO, he said there would be active movements in the food court.
“I believe it is a little too early to assess how my business would suffer. But from my observation this morning, my business has got off to a slow start,” he said during the interview session with Buletin Mutiara.
S.Vijayalaxmi, 68, who sells traditional Indian food, such ‘tosai’, ‘idli’ and ‘vada’, said she wouldn’t mind if her business is affected as she fully supports the Federal Government’s decision to reimplement it.
“Money can be earned when this situation (Covid-19 pandemic) subsides. More importantly is to safeguard our health at all costs.
“I just want everyone to stay safe and healthy, and in order to curb further spread of the virus, MCO is the last and best resort,” she said.
Penang is being placed under MCO for two weeks, from today (Jan 13) to Jan 26, along with states like Selangor, Melaka, Johor, Sabah and the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan.
Meanwhile, other states like Pahang, Perak, Negri Sembilan, Kedah, Terengganu and Kelantan are placed under the conditional MCO while only two states – Perlis and Sarawak – are under recovery MCO.
Penny Ang Bee Lin, who owns a convenience store at the Bayan Baru food court, said although she has already witnessed a reduced income in the morning of the opening day, she chooses to stay positive and warmly welcomes the decision from the Federal Government.
“I believe the recent rise in number of Covid-19 cases has given the Federal Government no choice but to bring back MCO to curb further spread of infections.
“At the end of the day, it is for our own good. So, let us all just stay calm and be as cooperative as we can to support the state and Federal governments’ initiatives to fight the pandemic,” she added.
On the mainland, not many vehicles were seen on the roads, even during morning peak hours on the major roads in Seberang Jaya and Perai heading towards the Penang Bridge.
A check by Buletin Mutiara at several wet markets on the mainland, such as in Seberang Jaya, Bukit Mertajam, Permatang Pauh and Butterworth, found that there were fewer market-goers.
They practised physical distancing as well as wore face masks while doing their marketing.
MBSP enforcement officers were also on duty at the markets early in the morning.
Every market-goer has his or her body temperature checked by the MBSP officer before being allowed to enter the market.
They also need to write down their name or scan the QR code before entering.
The enforcement officers also are controlling the crowd at the marketplace, allowing only a certain number of people to enter at any one time to prevent overcrowding.
Most of the markets also have only one entrance and one exit.
Fruit seller Muhamad Tarmizi Wan Long, 40, said not many customers showed up at his stall today.
“But I have already expected that when the Federal Government decided to reinforce the MCO.
“At the same time, I am also having trouble to restock my fruit supplies.
“My main supplier is from Perak and due to the MCO, they cannot come here to deliver the fruits. So, this will affect my business.
“Thus, I hope the Government will allow them to do inter-state travelling to deliver these types of items or else small traders like us will be hugely impacted,” said Muhamad Tarmizi, who has been in the fruit business for seven years.
A vegetable seller in a market in Seberang Jaya, Aziz Hamid, 65, said the majority of the customers still adhere to the SOPs, such as maintaining physical distancing and sanitising their hands.
“If I see a customer not following the SOP, such as not wearing a face mask properly or keeping a safe distance from each other, I will advise them. The virus is really dangerous; we cannot see it with our naked eyes and the vaccine has yet to arrive.
“Thus, only by adhering to the SOPs, we can beat this pandemic together.
“Besides that, I also provide hand sanitiser at my stall,” said Aziz, who has been selling vegetables for almost 20 years.
Over at the shopping malls on the mainland, not so many people were spotted doing their groceries today.
It is also observed that there are enough food supplies for everyone and grocery items such as rice, bread, vegetables, cooking oil, instant noodles and dried food were all often restocked by the staff.
The majority of the eateries, including fast food outlets in Seberang Perai, remain open for business. However, fewer people were seen for takeaways since dine-ins are not allowed.
Story by Kevin Vimal and Riadz Akmal
Pix by Darwina Mohd Daud and Ahmad Adil Muhamad