Restaurants, pubs seek dialogue with DBKL, police and NSC after Bangsar liquor confusion

A firefighter spraying disinfectant at a business area during Movement Control Order phase at Bangsar in Kuala Lumpur January 23, 2021. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
A firefighter spraying disinfectant at a business area during Movement Control Order phase at Bangsar in Kuala Lumpur January 23, 2021. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

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KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 22 — A food and beverage group today asked the government and law enforcers for a dialogue to iron out issues concerning the policy on serving alcohol during the movement control order (MCO).

The Restaurant and Pub Owners Association (PPRB) said the discussions were necessary following last Friday’s muddle during the police inspection of several F&B outlets in Bangsar that were licensed to sell alcoholic beverages.

“We want to call for a dialogue with Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), the police and National Security Council (NSC) so that a collaborative approach to find a better balance between lives and livelihood can be achieved,” it said in a statement.

The association said the police inspection had upset business operations for the restaurants by creating an atmosphere of fear, deterring patrons from dining at the establishments.

While it acknowledged that the authorities were only carrying out their duties, it said the law enforcers should not interpret the law without basis.

PPRB said the latest list of regulations for entertainment establishments issued by the NSC dated February 18 did not ban the sale of alcoholic beverages within restaurants.

It added that doing so was akin to “criminalising business operators”.

The association pointed to its past dialogue with KL Mayor Datuk Mahadi Che Ngah last November 26, which enabled F&B outlets to continue their operations while complying with the law as a “good example of public and private cooperation”.

It hoped another similar dialogue could be held in the same vein.

Last Friday, officers from the Pantai police station were reported to have ordered restaurateurs along Jalan Telawi in Bangsar to stop serving alcohol and close their bars or risk being fined RM1,000 per customer and operator under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988, only to reverse the order a few hours later.

The MCO currently only applies to Johor, Penang, Selangor and Kuala Lumpur from February 19 to March 4.

Under the latest set of MCO regulations made by Health Minister Datuk Seri Adham Baba and gazetted on February 18, “activities in pubs and nightclubs including restaurant business in pubs and nightclubs” remain a prohibited activity. There are three categories of prohibited activities in the second schedule of the regulations.

This item is also listed as one of three categories of prohibited activity in the government’s latest February 18 gazetted regulations for areas under the recovery movement control order (RMCO) in Perlis and to the conditional movement control order (CMCO) applicable to the rest of Malaysia.

This item has also been listed in previous editions of such regulations, along with outbound tour activities by Malaysians and inbound tour activities involving foreign tourists entering Malaysia except for foreign tourists from countries specified by the minister, and “any activity with many people in attendance at a place making it difficult to carry out social distancing and to comply with the directions of the director general”.

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