OPERATORS of roadside stalls in four locations on the island, namely Jelutong, Perak Road, Air Itam and Bayan Baru, dutifully closed their businesses temporarily today.
At the time of writing, none was found to have flouted the ban as per instructed by the Penang Island City Council (MBPP).
MBPP mayor Datuk Yew Tung Seang issued the order yesterday for them to close from today till the movement control order (MCO) expires on March 31.
This came following many complaints of overcrowding at the marketplaces despite the enforcement of MCO since March 18.
Yew explained that the measure was taken for the hawkers and market-goers to avoid close contact and to prevent to the spread of Covid-19.
During a survey conducted at Perak Road Market by Buletin Mutiara, several council enforcement officers were seen on duty at the market.
MBPP senior licensing officer Muhd Rosli Ishak said the roadside hawkers at Jalan Perak had obeyed the council’s order.
“You can see that there is no sight of any roadside hawker running their stalls over here and the traffic is also quite clear.
“For those hawkers who do not adhere to the order, they face having their stalls confiscated and/or their licences revoked,’’ said Muhd Rosli this morning.
At the Jelutong Market where only vegetable traders are allowed to operate their businesses at the roadside, fewer market-goers were seen today.
Jelutong MP R.S.N. Rayer, when contacted, said the council has done the right thing by ordering the shutdown of the stalls.
“The closure order is compulsory since Malaysians are not taking the movement control order (MCO) seriously as the number of cases involving the Covid-19 has breached the 1,000 mark.
“I understand that the businesses will suffer losses. They can be compensated but the loss of lives cannot be compensated.
“Moreover, the state government has allocated RM20 million to help out those small traders whose businesses have been affected due to the current situation,’’ he added.
Apart from these two markets, the roadside hawkers at the Air Itam and Bayan Baru also paid heed to the council’s call.
Air Itam assemblyman Joseph Ng said that in the bid to control the movement of market-goers, the council would only open one entry point as well as one exit point at the market.
“We will also put markings on the floor at the market to encourage social distancing. This is very important in our fight against the outbreak,’’ he said during his visit to the Air Itam Market in the morning.
At the Bayan Baru Market, the council’s enforcement officers as well as the police were present to monitor the situation.
According to Bayan Baru MP Sim Tze Tzin, the market today had a smaller crowd compared to yesterday probably due to the announcement that army personnel would join the police to enforce the MCO.
“But the soldiers were not here today. Perhaps, they may come tomorrow. Police personnel and MBPP officers were present to oversee the market situation.
“I see that that some of them do not practise social distancing even though we have marked the floor, so I urge all the market-goers to practise it.
“They need to be aware of the importance of not coming into close contact with people. The MBPP officers will also be assisting with regards to enforcing the social distancing, ‘’ he said when contacted.
Story by Tanushalini Moroter