Several mamak and warung outlets were operating way past midnight yesterday even as restaurant-bars in Selangor closed at 11pm under a new order to contain the coronavirus surge.
It is ironic that only resto-bars have been targeted while open-air eateries pack in customers who have scant regard for Covid-19 protocols.
The carefree ways at the outdoor joints make them potential hotspots of infections.
Are resto-bars being seen to be fuelling another wave of coronavirus infections, even though no cases have been linked to them?
Why don’t we hear about the number of people hauled up for violation of standard operating procedures at mamak and warung outlets?
How safe is it to dine at sidewalks, blocked-off streets or parking bays?
This column is not about questioning the 11pm closing time for resto-bars, but rather to drive home the importance of vigilance as the country is not out of the woods.
With more cases popping up every day, the authorities must be mindful that encouraging economic activity inevitably results in more human contact.
Clearly, the authorities have failed to strictly enforce public health measures if the situation at outdoor eateries is an indicator.
Disorderly buffet lines, scant concern for protocols
A visit to any mamak joint or warung will show non-adherence or scant observance of hygiene and infection controls and physical distancing.
A dozen bustling “midnight eateries” surveyed yesterday did not have preventive measures, an indication that a return to even a semblance of normality is a long way off.
It was an illustration of defiance of public safety concerns: People shared plates of food, risked droplet contamination during conversations, brushed up against each other and refused to face away from each other.
There was disorder at the long buffet lines, tables were not placed 1m apart and few employees wore masks.
The Selangor government should consider imposing the 11pm closing time on these outlets as well. And the police should use the same force that they pack in their nightly raids on pubs and nightclubs against these violators of public safety.
It’s simple logic: People tend to ignore rules in places where they are used to less strict social distancing, and where they congregate for long periods of time.
Medical evidence suggests socialising later in the evening increases the risk of the virus spreading.
Rogue pubs and girlie pubs are worse
Little will change if owners of resto-bars are viewed as the bad guys. They need more understanding not criticism.
The authorities should stop looking at them as mere liquor peddlers when some of them serve quality food and beverages.
Since the coronavirus infiltrated the hospitality industry, the responsible stakeholders have weathered the storm but continue to struggle.
The rogue pubs that are operating illegally, some with live entertainment and others with hostesses, deserve to pay big time for their folly.
The pubs are one of the worst environments for the spread of Covid-19 because free-flowing alcohol reduces inhibitions.
In girlie pubs, where physical distancing is almost impossible, keeping a distance becomes more difficult as the evening wears on, especially when customers start flirting.
Anyone who flouts the rules is not only putting everyone else at risk but letting down those businesses and workers who have done so much to prepare for this new normal.
Lockdowns only succeeded in controlling the virus when everyone worked together: We will only succeed in reopening completely if everyone works together again.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.
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