Malaysia Bagus News
Malaysia Bagus News
KOTA KINABALU: Small-time business operators in Sabah’s east coast Tawau are hoping the movement control order (MCO) will not be further extended beyond the end of the month.
However, if it is prolonged, traders like Ismail Sabran are appealing to the authorities to allow dine-in under strict guidelines in addition to takeaways.
Ismail, 33, used to operate two food stalls – a warung at Sabindo and the other at the night market in downtown Tawau.
But because of the MCO in the district, which started on April 2 and was extended to April 30, he is only able to open the Sabindo stall as night markets are not allowed.
He said the closing and opening of businesses due to the different levels of movement restrictions have caused him and other small-time businessmen to suffer, financially and mentally.
He feared that the longer the lockdown is imposed in Tawau – one of three Sabah districts currently under MCO due to the spike in cases and clusters – the tougher it will be for him to put food on the table for his wife and three children.
“We just opened for business after the statewide MCO ended (in February) before this latest lockdown,” he told reporters.
“We were doing fine for a while but that is not the case now. With no dine-in allowed and many villages under enhanced MCO in Tawau, business has been bad as there have been very few takeaway orders.
“We don’t have a fixed monthly income, so how are we to feed our families if the situation continues?
“The authorities should allow dine-in because the SOPs are already there. If they want, they could make the guidelines stricter and we will make sure they are observed.”
Ismail said other small-time businesses like barbershops, bundle shops and outlets selling cheap clothes are also feeling the heat.
He said many of his food vendor friends have closed shop as they were only able to earn RM10 a day but having to pay RM800 for rental.
“If we are given a one-off RM5,000 assistance, then we should be all right for now,” he said.
“In the meantime, they should also allow the night markets to open and let us have the opportunity to earn some money.”
Tawau Mobile Vendors Association chairman Zulkifli Nordin sympathised with Ismail and said the sector “never really gave them (authorities) a reason to be worried”.
“As far as I can remember, there have been no clusters involving night markets or food outlets since Covid-19 was first detected,” he told reporters.
“While we can’t blame the authorities entirely because they want to avoid (the spread of Covid-19), what are we to do if we can’t even provide for our families?”
Zulkifli said it was not fair to punish the business sectors for the clusters at residential areas and elsewhere, adding the authorities “should just close off the affected areas”.
He said the food vendors understood the frustrations felt by residents at Kampung Muhibbah Raya and Kampung Baru Pasir Putih in Tawau who protested against the extension of the EMCO in their areas.
“In fact, we feel more frustrated because this involves our livelihood, so please hear the people’s grouses and allow us to operate as usual.”
Tawau remains a red zone district after reporting 8,975 infections as of yesterday, with 737 cases still active.
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