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Is it safe to allow ‘dine-in’ again?

The restaurant association questioned whether it was safe for the eatery to reopen for on-premises dining service given the high record of daily cases and deaths from Covid-19.

J Suresh, president of the Malaysian Indian Restaurant Owners Association, believes now is not the time to do so, although some owners welcomed the relaxation that will take effect from Tuesday.

“We are asking to reopen when the number of cases is still around 3,000 to 4,000 cases. Now, when over 20,000 new cases are reported in a few days, they finally allow us to open for dine-in? he said.

He voiced his concern over the reopening of the eatery, given the high number of cases and deaths, even though more people have been vaccinated.

“I leave it to the respective restaurants to decide if they feel safe to reopen, it’s up to them.”

Earlier, the government today announced cross -district travel and dining in restaurants will be allowed again for full vaccine recipients in the Phase 2 state starting this Tuesday.

However, Suresh said, restaurants that choose to reopen may struggle to do so due to lack of employees. Movement restrictions for months left businesses at a low level and many restaurants lost foreign workers they had once hired.

“After foreign workers return to their country of origin, we cannot take them back. So, restaurants that want to restart their business are now facing the problem of no manpower. This includes kitchen staff, waiters, even workers at the door who are supposed to check vaccination status. Many businesses no longer have staff.”

Wong Teu Hoon, president of the General Association of Malaysian Coffee Shop Owners Singapore, expects the reopened businesses to struggle to make a profit as the dine-in business may not be able to offset capacity limitations and the additional cost of regular sanitation and staff to check vaccination status.

“But, what worries me the most is the current health condition which does not look positive. There is a high risk for our customers to eat on the premises.

“While we hope to open for dining on the premises in the near future, it can only be implemented once the pandemic is under control.”

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