Malaysians express relief over govt's latest decision to relax SOP

KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 10): Restaurant, hotel and sports facility operators welcomed the government’s decision to allow them to resume their respective operations and allow those who are fully vaccinated to partake in social activities effective today.

Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association (PRESMA) president Datuk Jawahar Ali Taib Khan was grateful that the government was allowing dine-in activities and hoped that more workers in the sector will be vaccinated.

“This is something good and we have always hoped that dining-in would be allowed, so we will take the prime minister’s advice of not allowing customers to linger at the restaurant for too long. I also beseech the government to speed up the vaccination process for our employees outside the Klang Valley, as they are akin to frontliners.

"In the Klang Valley, Alhamdulillah around 85% of workers have been vaccinated, with 50% having completed both shots,” he said, adding there were around 4,500 Presma members throughout the country.

While welcoming the government’s suggestion to have more open concept dining areas, he hoped that the local authorities would allow the use of spaces outside the restaurant premises as long as it did not hinder traffic or parking.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) chief executive officer Yap Lip Seng said although the relaxation covers only states under Phase Two and beyond of the National Recovery Plan (PPN), it is a significant step forward not just for the tourism industry but also the country as a whole.

“It shows the government’s commitment to transition the country from the state of a pandemic to accepting Covid-19 as endemic. While these are relatively small progressive steps especially for the tourism industry, the industry can now prepare itself for an impending reopening.

“Allowing dine-in at restaurants, as an example, is expected to benefit hotels, particularly those certified Clean and Safe by Bureau Veritas Certification Malaysia (a proprietary hygiene and safety label for hotels by MAH) that had since its inception included ventilation, airflow, as well as seating arrangements as part of its safety and health guidelines for restaurants within the hotels,” he said in a statement.

He said the overall high compliance of SOPs by hotels is an added assurance to the general public that it is safe to dine and even stay whether it is just for a short staycation or for any other travel purposes.

Yap said, another proposal by MAH, which has been presented to the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri earlier this year, is to allow fully vaccinated persons to travel between districts and states with added controls of confirmed hotel bookings and itineraries that can be monitored by hotels.

“With the current progress, this should be allowed in the next phase of relaxation, commencing with  travel between states that have transitioned to Phase Two. The hotel industry is ready and will support the government in taking calculated steps towards the full reopening of tourism, not just domestic but also international,” he said, adding there were approximately 1,000 members currently under MAH nationwide.

The Youth Council of Malaysia Sports and Cultural Committee chairman Hasanul Amir Abdul Halim said it was now the duty of Malaysians and industry players to implement things as best as possible to curb the spread of Covid-19.

"I believe that Malaysians are wise enough to make their own assessment. No matter what, Malaysians need to be responsible for their actions. The relaxation and approval of sports and recreational activities, approval of dining-in and the reopening of domestic tourism are very welcomed, as it will help reduce stress levels after such a long period of staying at home.

“Besides, this move will help sports and tourism facility operators to resume their businesses and generate income. For them, not only do they need to ensure that individuals frequenting their businesses have completed both vaccination shots, their workers will also need to be fully vaccinated,” he said.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on Sunday announced that the government has agreed to allow individuals who have completed their vaccination and are staying in states that are in Phase Two and beyond of the PPN to engage in social sector activities.

These activities include inter-district travel, dining in at restaurants, non-group sports and recreational activities without physical contact and domestic tourism involving homestays and hotels.

Currently, six states are in Phase Two of the PPN, namely Penang, Perak, Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and Sabah while Perlis, Sarawak and Labuan are in Phase Three.

Kedah, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Negeri Sembilan, Melaka, Johor and Putrajaya are still in Phase One.

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