PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Now that the enhanced movement control order has been lifted in many parts of Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, retailers and restaurant operators want the Malaysian government to allow them to open their doors to customers who have been vaccinated against Covid-19.
They said many businesses have reached the end of the line and are in dire need of life support.
Malaysia Retail Chain Association president Shirley Tay said it has been difficult for many retailers and many have lost hope.
"The delay in allowing business sectors to reopen will severely aggravate the current dire situation. It is worrying that we cannot ascertain the timeframe of when there will be a relaxation for businesses," she added.
Ms Tay urged the government to consider allowing more businesses to reopen to customers who have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.
Pan Malaysia Koo Soo Restaurants and Chefs Association vice-president Ringo Kaw called for dine-in to be allowed, but limited to only patrons who have been vaccinated.
"This will give a small breather to some of the people. We cannot be locking ourselves indoors all the time. But this doesn't mean we no longer need to follow the (standard operating procedure) even if we're vaccinated," he said.
"Even with vaccines, we have no choice but to live with the virus from now on, so changing our approach and mindset to adapt to the situation is important.
"It is important for us to vaccinate as many people as possible in the shortest time to allow businesses to reopen and let people keep their jobs," he added.
Malaysian Indian Restaurant Owners Association vice-president C. Krishnan concurred, saying that expediting vaccinations is the only way out, as many restaurants have gone out of business.
"The clearest solution is to expedite vaccinations and make sure they reach all service providers on an urgent basis, and to open up the economy. This will surely help turn around the economy," he said, adding that for now, the proposed relaxation would be a short-term relief for those who are vaccinated.
However, he said such a relaxation would not make much of a difference to some operators who are also worried owing to the high number of daily cases in the Klang Valley.
"We are still sticking to takeaway and delivery for now despite the low-profit margin," said Mr Krishnan, who is in the midst of shutting down one of his restaurants and considering changing his business into a "cloud kitchen".
A cloud kitchen - sometimes called a ghost kitchen or a virtual kitchen - is one which does only takeaway or delivery for online orders.
For Malaysia-Singapore Coffeeshop Proprietors Association president Wong Teu Hoon, there should be no rush to allow dine-in as long as the daily infections remain high in the Klang Valley.
While it is good to allow the fully vaccinated to dine in, he said restaurant operators cannot break even by allowing only minimal seating.
"It is better to consider dine-in at a later stage when at least 50 per cent of our population is vaccinated. It is painful for businesses, but our health is more important," he said.