Some still eating at restaurants despite Covid-19 prohibition

Patrons are pictured at an restaurant in Subang Jaya as the movement control order kicks in on March 18, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Patrons are pictured at an restaurant in Subang Jaya as the movement control order kicks in on March 18, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

SUBANG JAYA, March 18 — The first day of the country’s two-week shutdown to contain Covid-19 saw some still coming to grips with the massive restrictions imposed from today until March 31, including no dining within restaurants.

In Subang Jaya, Malay Mail observed a restaurant adjacent to the SS15 wet market openly serving customers at its premises.

When Malay Mail asked one of the Tamil-speaking workers why it was not only limiting itself to takeaway and deliveries, he appeared lost but conceded that his manager did inform him about the matter yesterday.

Another worker also approached after noticing their activities being photographed and sought to explain.

“We told all our customers that they cannot dine here. We also removed all our tables and chairs from the foot walk to comply with the government’s order,” he said, appearing uncomfortable with press presence.

Some customers were also seen rushing to the cash counter after noticing Malay Mail’s presence at the outlet.

Another customer then alerted a waiter, who approached Malay Mail to also explain.

“Some here are actually waiting for their spouses, and they dine here for a short while, he said adding that they only took less than 15 minutes in the restaurant.

“How are we to chase them away? Our customers are mostly elderly who just want to rest for a while,” he claimed.

Refusing to be named, the waiter who spoke in English said the government should issue an official notice to all restaurants to be displayed at entrances for patrons’ information.

Directly opposite, another restaurant took the initiative to affix several A4-size notices on its pillars and entrance to alert customers of the new rule in place today till March 31.

Darussalam Restaurant cashier M. Ramanathan and the outlet’s workers were seen ushering customers and directing them to the counter to place takeaway orders only.

Only tables were available in the restaurant and all chairs were removed.

“If it’s an order, then it’s the rule. It has to be followed. We cannot risk any issues,” he said when met.

Over at Giant Shah Alam in Section 13, the usually bustling food court was empty save for some of the hypermarket’s employees taking their breakfast.

A small family of four and an elderly couple were seen lounging in the area, with some food they bought from a restaurant inside Giant.

A security guard who approached Malay Mail after noticing photographs being taken later began asking customers not to eat at the food court.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said on Monday that Malaysia will effectively be hitting pause on all non-essential activities for two weeks from today until March 31 to stop the spread of the Covid-19 virus under a nationwide movement control order.

This order covers the whole of Malaysia, with a ban on public gatherings including for any religious, sports, social and cultural events except for supermarkets, sundry goods stores, markets and other places selling daily necessities or things that people would need for their day-to-day lives.

However, a recent to further clarify the movement control order, the National Security Council, through its Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) released yesterday that restaurants and eateries can only cater for food delivery services such as GrabFood, Foodpanda and others but will have to strictly avoid dine-in customers.

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