PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Unlike past Chinese New Year celebrations, some businesses in Malaysia are now extending their operating hours to cater to last-minute customers as well as to recoup losses from previous coronavirus-related lockdowns.
With the festive season fast approaching, business owners said some people have yet to find the time to shop due to work commitments and would be making 11th hour preparations.
Selangor and Kuala Lumpur Ku Su Shin Choong Hung Restaurants Association chairman Lum Tuck Loy said some of its members have chosen to remain open throughout the festive period.
"They will only close for business and rest after Chap Goh Meh," he said, referring to the last and 15th day of the celebration.
Datuk Lum said various Covid-19 restrictions and lockdowns over the past two years have hurt many restaurateurs.
"Since we are allowed to celebrate this year, many operators are seizing the opportunity to do more.
"They are coming up with various packages at different prices to entice customers," he added.
Mr Lum, who is also Malaysia Koo Soo Restaurants and Chefs Association honorary chairman, said bookings at restaurants have improved tremendously this year although some have still opted not to dine in.
"Most of the Chinese restaurants are open until Chinese New Year eve, which falls on Jan 31, to cater to the reunion dinner crowd.
"A majority will close on the first day but many will reopen for business on the second or third day onwards," he said.
Mr Lum also urged people to adapt to the new norms and adhere to the health protocols while celebrating with their loved ones.
A hotpot restaurant in Taman Ekoflora, Johor Baru, will remain open throughout the festive season, including its delivery service, from 10am to 2am.
"People often complain there are not many Chinese eateries that open because the operators are also celebrating. That's why we want to be different.
"We were not able to operate last year. This year, we want to be there for our customers," said the person in charge when contacted.
Similarly, a dim sum restaurant in Taman Ipoh Selatan in Ipoh, Perak, will also remain open until Feb 9.
"We want our patrons to be able to enjoy freshly-made dim sum during Chinese New Year when they are in Ipoh," said a supervisor who wanted to be known only as Pete.
In Klang, Selangor, a shop selling festive items and decorations in Jalan Nanas is open until the eve of Chinese New Year.
"Not everyone will get an advance salary so they can only make preparations and buy things at the last minute," said shopkeeper Louise Ong.
As traffic has started to build up in the older quarter of the city, Ms Ong said people are having a later start to usher in the celebration.
"However, it's going to be a better celebration this year because we are allowed to go home and celebrate with our family and friends," she added.