Restaurants Choose No Dine-In Due to Strict Rules

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Eighty percent of food and beverage (F&B) businesses opted for takeaways and deliveries despite being allowed to seat patrons in their premises under the conditional movement control order (CMCO).

Hasnoor Hussain/TMI

Malaysian F&B Operators Alliance told The Malaysian Insight its more than 1,000 members decided not to take in dine-in customers for now and that they were comfortable with takeaways.

The group’s spokesman, Joshua Liew, said the liabilities, such as having to foot the medical bill if a staff contracted covid-19, deterred businesses from taking in diners.

Putrajaya relaxed MCO rules yesterday but with the condition that businesses will have to bear the cost of Covid-19 test and treatment if their workers were infected with the virus.

Liew said some were unsure about the procedures and wanted to wait before resuming full operations.

He said that as an example an F&B operator in Kuala Lumpur may have to source for goods from Selangor, which had postponed the CMCO pending the review.

“There is a lot of confusion over this,” he said while adding that there has to be more clarity on the rules.

Liew said members were also grappling with lower sales during the fasting month and with costs remaining the same, it was a challenge to resume full operations.

Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob had said that restaurants can seat diners provided that procedures, like social distancing, are followed.

Restaurants will have to put a notice indicating how many customers are allowed per table, depending on the size of the table.

McDonalds Malaysia said it will not accept dine-in customers for now but drive-thru, takeaway and deliveries will continue.

Selangor, Perak and Negri Sembilan have also barred restaurants from taking dine-in customers.

Restaurants that are going to seat patrons are going to great lengths to ensure rules are followed.

Chinoz KLCC restaurant manager Azlee Rahman said the restaurant will take only 30 to 40 diners at a time.

“We have also set tables two metres apart from each other,” he said.

Azlee said diners would have their temperature checked before allowed in and would enter and leave the restaurant at different lines.

Azlee also said the restaurant won’t be operating at full capacity and will open only from noon till 8pm.

At Eight Ounce Coffee in KLCC, a barista told The Malaysian Insight that they will not allow groups bigger than three into the cafe.

Like Chinoz, Eight Ounce Coffee has also set tables two metres apart.

Complicated rules

About half of the traditional coffee shops in Kuala Lumpur open for takeaways only, saying they will fully reopen when the MCO is over.

Selangor and Kuala Lumpur Chinese Coffee and Tea Shopkeepers’ Association president Lee Chow Hait told The Malaysian Insight that half of traditional coffee shops will not let in let dine-in customers, as they fear they can’t follow the rules.

“You need to buy equipment for body temperature testing, customers have to write down their personal details and you also need to disinfect.

“So, many operators would rather not open for dine-in but wait until May 12 when the MCO ends, to decide if they will open,” Lee said.

Khuang Li fish ball and stuffed tofu restaurant owner Tan Chai Kong said he will continue with takeaways only until next month, and he will decide if he will fully reopen then.

Tan said the government’s guidelines were difficult to follow.

“If you have to record the customers’ information, and take their temperature, I need to arrange for a staff member to do this.

“If a customer is infected with Covid-19, then I’ll have to disinfect the whole shop. Won’t that lead to even more losses?

“Frankly speaking, everyone is still at risk right now. Even if the government announces tomorrow that it will bear all costs for isolation and disinfecting works, I will still think twice before fully opening,” he said.

Traditional restaurant owners were not keen on taking down the personal details of customer.

Good Taste Seafood Restaurant owner Gan Sin Fwee said it was a hassle and some customers might not agree to it.

33 Kopitiam owner, who gave his name only as Chow agreed, saying it may result in conflict.

“If I am a customer, I am not willing to let a stranger take down my personal information, including my identity card number.

“I was worried about all this and eventually decided not to open for dine-in.” – TMI