In Penang, most food outlets still not open for dine-ins

Hameediyah Restaurant director Mohd Riyaaz (left) packing up nasi kandar for a customer to take away. ― Picture by Steven Ooi KE
Hameediyah Restaurant director Mohd Riyaaz (left) packing up nasi kandar for a customer to take away. ― Picture by Steven Ooi KE

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GEORGE TOWN, Aug 10 — The majority of the eateries in Penang have not opened for dine-in despite being allowed to do so for diners who were fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

Most food outlets, including popular nasi kandar spots like Deen Maju and Hameediyah Restaurant, have kept to only offering takeaway and delivery services today.

Customers making their orders for take away at the Penang Road Cendul stall. ― Picture by Steven Ooi KE
Customers making their orders for take away at the Penang Road Cendul stall. ― Picture by Steven Ooi KE

Even the Joo Hooi coffee shop along Penang Road, where the famed Penang Road cendul and Jin Kor char koay teow stalls are located, still did not accept dine-in patrons.

Char koay teow seller, Sky Lim, said they could not open for dine-in as many of the staff was still waiting for their vaccinations.

“I registered through MySejahtera since February and still have not got my appointment,” he said.

He said as there was still uncertainty about the standard operating procedures (SOPs) applicable for dine-ins, they would rather continue with takeaway and delivery orders for now.

He also said has decided to book a paid vaccination package offered by a private clinic here.

“I can’t wait anymore, I don’t even know when our turn is and it’s not like there is a priority for hawkers and if we are to open for dine-in next month or after that, I have to be fully vaccinated,” he said.

Today is the first day for eateries in states under Phase Two of the National Recovery Plan (NRP) to open for dine-in patrons who have been fully vaccinated.

One of the dine-in SOPs stipulated that the workers at the eateries must also be fully vaccinated.

Penang is now in Phase Two of the NRP.

Over at Hameediyah Restaurant in Campbell Street, director Mohd Riyazz Syed Ibrahim said the majority of their 30 staff has also not been vaccinated.

“Only 10 of my staff have received one dose, one has fully vaccinated, and the rest are still waiting,” he said.

He said this morning, a group of eager customers waited and queued outside the restaurant hoping to dine there but they had to turn them away.

“We have also received calls asking if we allow dine in and we have to turn them away,” he said.

He said the plan is to only open for dine-ins about two weeks to a month later.

“We can only hope there are new dine-in SOPs especially on the workers’ vaccinations,” he said.

Over at New World Park hawker food court, dine-in was allowed but only a few tables were occupied.

Joo Hooi cafe using chairs to block its entrance to indicate they are not open for dine in at the moment. ― Picture by Steven Ooi KE
Joo Hooi cafe using chairs to block its entrance to indicate they are not open for dine in at the moment. ― Picture by Steven Ooi KE

A sign with the dine-in SOPs was displayed at its entrance and diners were required to show their full vaccination certificate before they could be seated.

However, restaurants on the other side of the complex are still not open for dine-ins.

Banana leaf rice restaurant, Passions of Kerala, is still offering takeaway and delivery service.

Its manager, Roy Nair, said most of the workers are not fully vaccinated yet.

“We have not decided on whether to open for dine in yet, we will wait for the government to update the SOPs first and then decide,” he said.

Sin Seh Kai Artisan bakery cafe blocking their entrance as they are not open for dine in at the moment. ― Picture by Steven Ooi KE
Sin Seh Kai Artisan bakery cafe blocking their entrance as they are not open for dine in at the moment. ― Picture by Steven Ooi KE

Sin Seh Kai Artisan Bakery and Cafe is also serving takeaway sets and delivery.

Cafe owner Ryan Woo said all of the cafe’s 20 workers have only received their first dose of AstraZeneca yesterday through a special arrangement he managed to make.

“They will only get their second dose two months later,” he said.

He added that the current dine-in SOPs are unclear so they will just wait and see.

New World Park Hawker food court is open for dine-in for those vaccinated in accordance with the SOPs. ― Picture by Steven Ooi KE
New World Park Hawker food court is open for dine-in for those vaccinated in accordance with the SOPs. ― Picture by Steven Ooi KE

He said they have already switched their focus to promote special baked goods sets and breakfast sets for takeaway and delivery so their business was actually better than before the full lockdown.

“Even if we can open for dine-ins after the government releases clearer SOPs, we plan to only open for three separate groups of customers per hour and each group is allowed to stay for only 45 minutes,” he said.

Only a maximum of two patrons per table will be allowed, according to the minimum physical distance set in the SOPs.

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