Stricter movement control order for Penang as Covid-19 cases threaten to flare up

The areas ordered to observe these restrictions include Teluk Kumbar (above) on the south of Penang Island. PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

BALIK PULAU, PENANG (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Parts of Penang are back under a stricter movement control order (MCO) as Covid-19 cases threaten to flare up.

After more than 100 days of "Covid-free bliss", the local authorities are on the alert again and both city councils have tightened measures in several parts of the state after new cases began sprouting up in the community.

Roadside hawkers may not serve dine-ins and can do only takeaways. Restaurants and coffee shops are allowed to have dine-in patrons but standard operating procedures need to be observed strictly.

No form of crowding is allowed.

The areas ordered to observe these restrictions are Teluk Kumbar, Sungai Batu and Gertak Sanggul on the south of Penang Island, and Central and Southern Seberang Prai Districts on the mainland.

Night bazaars, or pasar malam, are closed for now and in Taman Sahabat, Teluk Kumbar, the Penang Island City Council warned in a statement that it would close the morning market unless the community adheres to standard operating procedures strictly.

A 58-year-old woman who lives in Taman Sahabat was confirmed to have contracted the virus on Friday (Aug 14).

A visit to the rural suburb on Saturday found the place to be a ghost town with only a handful of shops and stalls open and hardly anyone out and about.

Ms Nor Fazila Jaafar, 33, who works at a Malay food shop near the walk-up flats where the 58-year-old woman lives, said she was told on Saturday morning that they had to stop allowing dine-in.

"Business was so bad. We cooked less, but we still only sold 30 per cent of the food all morning and afternoon," she said.

"We discovered that our rice comes from the sundry shop where the Covid-19 patient's daughter works."

Ms Nor Fazila said enforcers visited her shop in the morning and explained the new restrictions to them.

"We will take a few days off and see if people will come to our morning market here," she said.

"If people stop coming, we will not operate for a while," she said, adding that medical officers from the Health Ministry had recorded her details and would call her for tests soon.

A walk around Taman Sahabat, however, showed that some of the local residents, including children, were walking around without wearing masks or had them pulled down to the chin.

Penang had two new cases on Saturday in George Town, and the Health Ministry announced that both had been in close contact with a 53-year-old businessman from Baling, Kedah, who had attended the funeral of a family member from July 31 until Aug 1.

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