Sabah to impose one-hour shopping time limit to curb Covid-19 spread

Only one hour is allowed for visitors to malls, supermarkets, grocery stores and similar premises.
Only one hour is allowed for visitors to malls, supermarkets, grocery stores and similar premises.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

KOTA KINABALU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Sabah government has introduced stricter ruling for the conditional movement control order in the state.

Only one hour is allowed for visitors to malls, supermarkets, grocery stores and similar premises, compared to two hours per shopping trip to be imposed by the federal government.

The amended standard operating procedure (SOP) will take effect on Tuesday (May 25), said Sabah Local Government and Housing Minister Masidi Manjun.

He said the local authorities need to ensure the maximum capacity of visitors is set at 50 per cent of space capacity.

"The rule is 200 sq ft per visitor, and not exceeding one hour," said Datuk Seri Masidi in a statement on Sunday (May 23).

The rule for Sabah on Borneo island is stricter compared to a two-hour limit to be imposed from Tuesday by the Malaysian government.

Malaysia's Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Alexander Nanta Linggi said on Sunday:  “Abide by the two-hour limit. This cooperation is important for us in our battle against the Covid-19 pandemic."

Asked who will check on each shopper how long he or she had spent in a mall or supermarket, Datuk Nanta said the ministry has a limited number of enforcement officers. He said the onus is on the public to practice self-control and reduce their time spent shopping.

“The ministry only has about 2,200 enforcement officers nationwide, so we will conduct random checks at places that are popular with shoppers," he said.

The new curbs on shoppers followed the government's announcement that from Tuesday malls, restaurants and shop can only open between 8am and 8pm, instead of shutting down at 10pm.

Malaysia has seen a surge in Covid-19 cases, hitting a record daily high of 6,976 cases on Sunday.

The Malaysia Shopping Malls Association said on Sunday that it is impractical to enforce a two-hour limit for shoppers.

“The only practical way is to put up signs at the entrance and common areas and to advise businesses to do similarly at their premises plus announcements (where applicable) to remind shoppers.

“Apart from this, we say that it is neither practical for anyone to stop a shopper asking to check his/her MySejahtera (the government's contact-tracing app) to audit the time of entry, nor do we have the authority to do so. In the event enforcement authorities were to undertake this, it would be akin to a ‘police state’.

“The onus would be on shoppers to discipline themselves to the two-hour limit and not for malls to enforce, ” the association said.